For decades, businesses around the globe have been using Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) as the technology for switching and trunking. TDM as a technology is hardware-intensive and requires physical cards for each circuit. Now, in the age of high-speed internet connectivity, the legacy TDM technology is rapidly getting replaced by Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a communications protocol for transmitting multiple streams of voice and audio-visual media over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. SIP comes with an inherent advantage of reducing the hardware footprint and also multiple physical circuits. By using this technology, both voice and video can run as a service in the IP trunk.
Switching to SIP
Firstsource Solutions, a major player in the BPO industry wanted to boost its operational efficiency and the ability to quickly ramp up in order to adjust peak and seasonal demands, as well as to lower the costs. The company, therefore, upgraded its legacy telephone infrastructure in India and UK and migrated from TDM to SIP. Firstsource designed the complete architecture and framework for the movement to SIP technology.
After carefully designing its telephony so that it is compatible with its customers and interoperable among various application environments, Firstsource has added immense value to its customer network. The interoperability and integration on the platform have also helped Firstsource extend the functionality of SIP with its in-house proprietary analytics platform.
“We designed the entire telephonic solution, worked with vendors to see which solution suited the best, and built a system which was interactive and compatible with client ACDs (Automatic Call Distributors). Plus, the new system also integrates with our recording system as well as the clients’ CRM,” says Ajit Aloz, Senior Vice President - Technology at Firstsource Solutions.
The challenges with legacy infrastructure
In the BPO industry, the major challenge is increasing the number of sessions, which requires system expansion. In the old system, scaling the system or adding services was based on available slots and was always dependent on the availability of extra hardware procurement, which added further to the already-high maintenance costs. Because it is hardware-based, TDM offered restricted capabilities to expand and grow the business, making it both costly and time-consuming. But, as Firstsource shifted to SIP technology, it provided the organization with the capability and scalability to smoothen its network and integrate applications over the overall customer platform, driving customer satisfaction to a whole new level.
“As it was a legacy infrastructure, the biggest challenge was that whenever we needed to add new lines we had to go buy new hardware and provision new circuits. In addition, the system was also difficult to maintain and any upgrade used to take a lot of time, which was challenging during peak performance. From an uptime perspective, a link or card failure meant all extensions would be affected,” explained Aloz.
How has the new technology infrastructure fared?
The SIP protocol has revamped the company’s communication system and has reaped big benefits for the organization to help create more customer loyalty and smooth integration of applications. According to Firstsource, with SIP trunking, the time to expand is just a day compared to TDM which will take at least 6-8 weeks including the hardware delivery and circuit connection. It is this flexibility to handle multiple channels of information that makes SIP a revolutionary technology for organizations.
“With the new solution, our ability to ramp up is now in hours and not days and weeks like before. With SIP, now we can have the process running in an active/active mode, with seamless switch-over in case of hardware failure, whereas earlier in TDM because of physical termination the switchover impacted the service. If there is a session failure, then downtime is only limited to the affected user and not all the extensions as it used to be in the past. SIP has also opened up integration possibilities with multiple OEMs, which is very critical in a multi-OEM environment like ours,” told Ajit Aloz.