Rogers Communications Inc. is opening a gateway to unified communications by offering SIP trunking service to its medium and enterprise customers with PBX systems.

“It’s the first phase of moving our customers to all-IP (Internet protocol),” Terry Canning, vice-president of Rogers Business Services, said Tuesday.

The division has an estimated 15,000 customers across Canada with PBX systems that Rogers provides connectivity to , he said, who could see substantial savings from merging data and voice networks.

Canning estimates most Rogers customers are paying between $36 and $40 a month for a full-featured phone line. SIP trunking reduces that to between $20 and $25 a month.

That price includes local calling, free calling between branches, 911, caller ID and directory listing.

“Ultimately, as the system gets pulled into the cloud in a few years, we could see that dropping into the teens, if not single digits,” he said.

The benefit is not merely price, he suggested. A converged network means organizations could dump landlines and have all staff use cellphones – which Rogers [TSX: RCI.A] sells — and tablets for connectivity.

“Everybody’s running around with cell phones paying big bills, they’ve got landlines they stare at,” Canning said. “People are looking for ways to make wireless and wired phones work together … and to pay for one connection.”

Rogers expects to convert all of its PBX customers over the next three years. It also hopes the new service will attract up to 2,000 new customers.
Subscribing to SIP trunking requires no change to a customers’ PBX, Canning said. Rogers only has to add an Ethernet connector, which he said looks like a small modem.
Among the benefits is that organizations can purchase a smaller number of lines when adding capacity than most standard service providers offers.
Telcos such as Bell Canada have been offering SIP trunking to their customers for several years.