As voice over IP gains acceptance in the corporate arena, vendors are already setting their sights on another potentially lucrative market: consumers.
"We have spoken to retailers to try and find a price for the household market," said Lawrence Chong, Alcatel's pre-sales engineer for its e-business networking division.
VoIP can offer consumers services such as private voicemail within the home as well as cheap phone calls. Chong predicts VoIP will be the norm in telephony within the next five years, as long as telcos come to the party with broadband.
"2003 will be an interesting year for infrastructure changes," he said.
For the moment, however, Alcatel is happy to focus on the SME market with its all-in-one VoIP solution, OmniPCX Office. The vendor is using application partners to develop CTI applications to control distribution.
But the company is also looking at sales training for distribution partners and Harvey Norman staff.
"Voice application differs significantly," Chong said. "It is much more complicated than data. You also have to worry about extensions, handsets and wireless solutions. So we have to make sure we get one model right.
"There are certain features that
will not be available to the household market."