SIP • Last Updated 9/29/2023

PSTN termination: Understanding the basics

Learn the basics of PSTN termination and its impact on conference calling, managed service providers (MSPs), and contact centers.


By Emily Bowen

man calling with PSTN termination

The difference between success and failure in business often comes down to one crucial factor: effective communication. A staggering 86% of corporate executives, employees, and educators cite ineffective communication as a leading cause of failures in the workplace.

As the backbone of voice communication for over a century, PSTN termination has played a critical role in ensuring reliable voice calls, making it essential for businesses to understand its workings and advantages. However, PSTN termination also has some drawbacks.

In this blog post, we'll explore PSTN termination, how it works, an alternative, and how your business might leverage PSTN termination for improved performance and success.

What is PSTN termination?

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a global network of telephone lines, cables, and other infrastructure that enables voice communication. It has been the backbone of voice communication for over a century, using both analog and digital technologies, such as landlines and mobile networks.

PSTN termination, also known as outbound calling, refers to the process of connecting calls from one network to the PSTN. It ensures that your calls reach their intended recipients, regardless of the network they’re using. For example, when a company using VoIP services makes a call to a landline, PSTN termination facilitates the connection.

Why does PSTN termination matter to businesses?

Reliable PSTN termination is crucial for businesses because it guarantees high-quality voice communication. Reliable termination is essential for conference calls, contact centers, and managed service providers, as it ensures real-time voice calling and improved customer satisfaction.

How PSTN termination works

To understand the benefits of PSTN termination, let's dive into how it works and the differences between traditional PSTN termination and its modern alternative, SIP trunking termination (also called VoIP termination). Traditional PSTN termination and VoIP or SIP trunking termination differ in how they transmit voice data over a network.

Traditional PSTN termination

In traditional PSTN termination, the voice data is transmitted as an analog signal over a circuit-switched network. Here’s what it looks like when you make a call:

  1. A dedicated circuit is established between the two phones.
  2. The voice data is transmitted through this circuit.
  3. This circuit remains open for the duration of the call.
  4. When you hang up, the circuit is closed.

This method has been the standard for many years. However, it has limitations, such as reduced call quality and capacity. For example, a small business using traditional PSTN termination may experience call congestion during peak hours, leading to dropped calls and customer dissatisfaction.

SIP trunking termination

On the other hand, VoIP and SIP trunking use a packet-switched network to transmit voice data as digital packets. When you make a call using SIP trunking termination, it looks like this:

  1. The voice data is broken up into small packets .
  2. The packets are sent over the internet or a private network.
  3. The packets are then reassembled at the receiving end to recreate the voice data.

SIP trunking termination offers increased flexibility in call routing, transmission of more data at lower costs, and the ability to add features like video or file sharing. For example, a healthcare provider using SIP trunking termination can easily integrate video consultations into their workflow, improving patient experience. Similarly, a global corporation could utilize the dynamic call routing capabilities of SIP trunking to route calls efficiently between different offices or departments, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration across the organization.

PSTN termination vs. SIP (VoIP) termination

In this section, we will compare and contrast PSTN termination and SIP (VoIP) termination to help you better understand their differences and make an informed decision for your business communication needs.

PSTN termination

The main advantage of traditional PSTN termination is its widespread compatibility with existing infrastructure, ensuring seamless integration for businesses. Another notable benefit of PSTN termination is its higher reliability and consistency, as it relies on hardwired connections, which are less susceptible to network issues.

However, it comes with limitations in call quality, capacity, and features. In a world where businesses need to adapt quickly, these limitations can be restrictive. It's important to note that in many places, PSTN infrastructure is being decommissioned in favor of internet-based telephony like VoIP, potentially making PSTN termination a less viable long-term option.

SIP trunking termination

SIP trunking termination offers better call quality, more features, and lower costs. One advantage of VoIP and SIP trunking termination is that it can transmit more data at a lower cost than traditional PSTN termination. It also allows for more flexibility in call routing and can support additional features such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing.

The main drawback to SIP termination is that it may require businesses to upgrade their infrastructure. However, the benefits often outweigh the initial investment, making it a popular choice for modern businesses.

Who uses PSTN termination?

Now that we've explored the differences between traditional PSTN termination and SIP trunking termination, let's look at specific industries that benefit from PSTN termination.

Business that use conference calling

Reliable connection is essential for successful conference calls. PSTN termination ensures that all participants can access the call, improving the ease and effectiveness of the meeting.

Imagine a global technology company hosting a virtual product launch. For a successful event, marketing and PR managers will need reliable communication between participants, ensuring the event runs smoothly and creates a positive impression on potential customers.

Managed service providers (MSPs)

MSPs need reliable voice termination services to provide quality voice solutions to their customers. PSTN termination plays a critical role in ensuring their offerings are top-notch and dependable.

For instance, an MSP serving retail businesses can use PSTN termination to provide a reliable, clear, and cost-effective phone service, enabling the retailers to maintain excellent communication with their customers and suppliers.

Contact centers

Timely and clear call backs are crucial for customer satisfaction in contact centers. PSTN termination helps guarantee successful call backs, contributing to a positive customer experience.

For example, by using PSTN termination, an airline's contact center can ensure that customers receive timely and clear call backs regarding flight updates or booking changes, reducing customer frustration and building trust in the brand.

Get started with PSTN termination

Understanding PSTN termination is vital for businesses that rely on voice communication. It plays a significant role in conference calls, managed service providers, and contact centers, ensuring clear and reliable communication in various industries.

Traditional PSTN termination relies on hardwired connections for greater reliability but has limitations in call quality, capacity, and features. SIP trunking termination, on the other hand, offers better call quality, more features, and lower costs but may require infrastructure upgrades.

Telnyx, a leading communications platform, empowers businesses to take advantage of both PSTN termination and SIP termination capabilities. By providing a suite of robust and scalable solutions, Telnyx ensures that businesses can enjoy reliable and high-quality voice communication, regardless of their preferred termination method.

With a global network of infrastructure and dedicated support, Telnyx enables seamless integration of traditional PSTN or modern SIP trunking termination into existing systems. By partnering with Telnyx, businesses can confidently navigate the ever-evolving world of telecommunications and make informed decisions that best suit their unique needs.

Talk to a Telnyx expert today to learn more about our PSTN termination and SIP termination capabilities.

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