VoIP origination and termination demystified

It used to be easy to figure out phone service. You got a phone number from AT&T, and then you could make and receive calls. But making and receiving calls are actually two very different services that aren’t at all connected (except that they both use a phone). So let’s define the terms and look at why some providers are better for one than the other.

What you need to know:

Since they are different services, your VoIP origination provider doesn’t have to be your VoIP termination provider. It comes down to knowing what you need from each, and being aware of the factors that make some providers stand out from others.


Simply put, origination is incoming calling. It sounds backwards, you’re not originating the call, but the name refers to the act of handling the originating call and delivering it to you. Because your number sits with your provider, the call comes to them first, and is then routed on to you. You need a phone number to receive origination service.

Assessing origination providers:

1. Value
Price is one obvious consideration when choosing a VoIP origination provider, but the real measure is value. Just because they’re delivering calls that came from another provider’s routes, doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about the quality of your provider’s inbound routes. If they are sending you media through their gateways as a proxy, the call is affected by your provider’s system. So assess the quality of the calls, listen to the audio, make sure calls don’t drop.

2. Management
You do have to worry about the access or control they give you over your account services. Make sure the option you choose gives you the kind of control you really need. Find out how easy it is to manage how calls are delivered to you, and if there are options. Keep in mind, for SIP calls, the more data you have passed to you, the better you’ll be able to route and manage calls once you receive them.

3. Flexibility
Look for flexibility and real-time activations. Time spent waiting for new numbers to be available is time wasted. And if you want to drop numbers, you want to be done with it in just a few clicks on your account dashboard.

4. Availability
You’ll also want an origination provider that lets you create backup routing in the event your primary system is down (power outage, server failure,…). That way, calls will still get through and it’ll be like business as usual.

5. Functionality
Features and functions will vary from provider to provider. But there are core functions that you should not go without. For safety’s sake, E911 is a must. Caller-ID Name (CNAM) storage and lookup are both key for business because they can help boost answer rates and build customer loyalty. Whether you use them now or not, toll-free numbers make it easier for customers and leads to get in touch. Don’t assume all providers offer toll-free phone numbers.


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