Let’s examine some actual costs as reported by broadcast engineers in some Top 100 US radio markets.
First is a large commercial cluster in a Top 50 market. By moving from ISDN-PRI to a “Managed SIP” connection, the stations are saving $900 per month, or more than $10,000 per year. Their Director of Engineering reports his clusters’ telecom savings:
I was paying $1,500/month plus usage for a traditional PRI. I now pay $600/month flat (includes unlimited local and LD calling) using a “Managed SIP” trunk. Basically it’s a service provided by a CLEC; they manage the traffic entirely on their network as VoIP. It’s more reliable than pure VoIP, but costs more.
The engineer at a community station in that same Top 50 market brought in SIP trunks and installed his own SIP PBX phone system and new SIP phones. Legacy POTS phone service would have cost about $400 per month for similar capacity. Savings for this small radio operation, then, is about $250 per month.
Another station cluster in a Top 75 radio market is using a combination of PRI and SIP connections. The engineer is responsible for cost optimization not only at the main facility, but also at co-owned station clusters in two other markets within the state. Their stations were less interested in MRC savings and more focused on improving telecom and data service in each of the three market clusters they operate. Moving to an IP infrastructure—both for incoming telecom and Internet service and for intra-market service—these stations greatly improved their business processes and communications by moving to IP. Plus, they saved enough money to replace their business phone systems with VoIP equipment.
For our business and on-air lines, we moved away from four bonded T1s for internet and three PRIs for telephone and ISDN, replacing them with just one 30 Mb/s fiber link. That was around three years ago. Our objective was to get as much guaranteed bandwidth as possible without increasing the monthly recurring costs (MRC). We went from 6 Mb/s to 30 Mb/s for about the same money.
Now, we have added 6 Mb/s MPLS circuits to our two other markets. These tie those two smaller markets to our big market for corporate WAN access and SIP telephone service. The Asterisk PBXs in each market have dial plans that direct market-to-market calls over this MPLS to avoid toll charges. Also these circuits were much less expensive than having corporate WAN access provided to each market.
Our final example is a station cluster in a Top 30 radio market. Their engineer notes that ISDN BRI costs “are skyrocketing” and notes, “we should have weaned ourselves off that technology years ago.” That’s a candid and truthful admission, to be sure. This station cluster is now in high gear, planning replacement IP-based service. The sooner they switch, the more they’ll save on monthly recurring costs.
We have only a very few POTS lines, but a large number of T1s and, believe it or not, ISDN-BRIs. Some of our on-air talkshow lines are direct BRI circuits. These BRI lines are skyrocketing! Seems every month the charges get higher and higher. We are moving more and more off these circuits as quickly as budgets allow for new VoIP equipment. One station does at least six remotes on a weekly basis. We have a number of T1s, plus fiber into the building. And, we have ordered some additional 250-meg Internet circuits from the cable company to get us more onboard with remotes via Internet. We can no longer justify ISDN orders, which is good since we should have weaned ourselves off that technology a few years ago.