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VoIP communication gains traction with businesses

By: Pamela Hamer-Koh
11 August, 2010

Feature of the week: When the Rudd government pointed a gun at Telstra's head and issued an ultimatum: divest your trusty copper wire assets or risk forfeiting the opportunity to progress into fibre optic cabling, Telstra chose well. It would ditch the copper.

Telstra's choice should come as no surprise. As businesses modernise the way information is communicated, through increasingly sophisticated applications, the use of VoIP technology has gained traction with businesses big and small.

According to international market research and consulting firm Infonetics Research, positive trends favouring hosted and business VoIP services were published across three recent reports released in the first half of this year.

"We saw a pickup in business VoIP benefit revenue growth in late 2009," Infonetics Research directing analyst Diane Myers said. "Benefit providers report that they are seeing increasing interest in hosted VoIP across all sizes of businesses, including large enterprises. We expect this trend to take up again as more companies turn to hosted services for their voice needs, with business VoIP services making up nearly a third of all VoIP benefit revenue by 2014."

Consensus amongst Australian specialist providers for the wholesale and retail market in voice and internet solutions observe a rapid uptake in both hosted and onsite PBX systems in the last 6-12 months.

"We have noticed a migration rate of more than 50 per cent to desktop VoIP (IP PBX) in the last year, and it's growing," Wowtel director Vincent Fitzpatrick said.

"There has been, and is, some concerns that VoIP has constraints - such as voice and video quality issues - but we have never had such issues. By 2012, we predict 75 per cent of companies will be using VoIP contact centres and desktop solutions in the daily operation of their businesses," Fitzpatrick explained.

ATU director Roger Mangraviti differentiates residential solutions to the needs of businesses in his overview of the Australian VoIP market.

"Residential and business users are quite different. It seems that residentials are only focussed on the bottom line of costs, while business focus on quality and capacity.

"We are seeing a rapid take-up in both hosted and onsite PBX systems. These two solutions have their segment and place. Many people are recommending hosted solutions, which is fine for small business, but for larger offices this will not work well," he said.

Unlike cooper landlines, cost effective capacity expansion – the ability to easily add more lines – is a winning advantage, leaving traditional legacies to bite the dust.

Other advantages include low maintenance, scalability to handle extra loads (when extra hardware is added) and features like IP cctv, teleconferencing, satellite communications, free calls, wifi, VoIP sms and video on demand.

"Big players like Telstra, Vodafone and Optus are all jumping on the IP bandwagon because they see it as an area of growth that they are losing to VoIP providers," Fitzpatrick said.

The advantage that independent VoIP providers have over the 'big players' is the instant service access and activation that companies like Wowtel and ATU are able to provide upon service agreement from clients.

According to a survey conducted by Wowtel, 66 percent of VoIP users are motivated by lower telecommunications costs, 43 per cent by a desire to merge voice and data networks and 41 percent by the utility of a single platform for communications in two or more areas.

With the government's (and opposition's) plan to integrate a high-speed broadband network across the nation - an acknowledgement that internet will become an increasingly essential component to how people will communicate and connect with each other in the future – VoIP technology in businesses has the potential to phase out the copper landline completely in the not-so-inconceivable future.

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