Interoperability, as defined by Federal Standard 1037C, refers to “the ability of systems, units, or forces to provide services to and accept services from other systems, units or forces and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together.” It further goes on to outline “the condition achieved among communications-electronics systems or items of communications-electronics equipment when information or services can be exchanged directly and satisfactorily between them and/or their users.” For businesses electing to deploy a hosted VoIP solution, interoperability should be one of their most critical concerns. Failing to perform crucial interoperability testing can result in incompatibility between the hosted service and telecommunications devices such as SIP based phones, Session Border Controllers and other IP telephony infrastructure.

The Internet Engineering Task Force,, recommends that every hosted VoIP solutions provider maintain strict compliance to the IETF RFC 3161 specification for the Session Initiation Protocol as it outlines the most basic requirements for ensuring that all hosted IP solutions maintain the functionality for interoperability with additional SIP based equipment.

In the business world there is a tendency to contract multiple vendors to support an assortment of network components; especially for organizations with geographically dispersed locations. For this purpose, it is essential to guarantee that each of the network fundamentals is wholly interoperable with each other. From an economical view point, replacing a network component that is not compatible with products from other vendors is not a plausible option.

Hosted business VoIP solutions providers that guarantee a high Quality of Service (QoS), such as award-winning solutions provider Nextiva, Inc. will require business administrators to input the correct interoperability configuration in order to route external calls correctly. Failing to enter the correct configuration can result in calls being made outside of the IP network being dropped or misrouted; this is likely caused from calls being routed through PSTN switches, instead of over the broadband connection.
Polycom, a leading manufacturer or IP telecommunications equipment has been rigorously testing their products to ensure interoperability with third-party vendors since early 2006. As a reputed business VoIP solutions provider Nextiva offers a full range of Polycom products ranking high on the interoperability scale.

The best method of mitigating the risks associated with incompatible elements is to first perform a complete and thorough interoperability test and to re-test on a periodic basis, or every time a new vendor or product is introduced into the network.

Interoperability issues are not a new concern, in fact, they have been presenting challenges to vendors and service providers since the inception of PBX. It is highly recommended that businesses select only hosted VoIP providers with demonstrated interoperability with the most commonly used vendors and carriers.