When Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) first grabbed the public’s fickle attention a few years ago, the focus was often on how you could save on your telephone bill. Not wanting to add to the kitty of the big telecommunication corporations, it seemed, was a commonly held aspiration.
In-line with the technology’s popularity, the number of VoIP providers continued to increase and climbed by 27 to 269 between April and September 2007, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Today, telcos and ISPs provide VoIP, often bundling the service with other offerings. But it is in unified communications (UC) that many channel players are promoting the technology as a key enabler.
“People do not employ IP telephony just to reduce cost,” Frost and Sullivan senior research manager, Audrey William, said. “When it first came out that was the talk; that IP telephony could reduce cost. I think to a certain extent you reduce your phone charges, but the main benefits of IP are more than that. It is a platform that enables easier maintenance because it is one network for voice and data. And the fact you can transport so many different applications very easily through an IP network, means there are numerous benefits to having an IP platform – cost savings is one of them.”
UC on the up
As companies have been increasingly recognising this point, the fiscal benefits have started to flow through to UC players. In Australia, UC revenues hit $340.2 million in 2007 and are expected to double in the next six years, according to William.
In spite of a forecast slowdown in the next two years because of the financial turmoil, the UC market should grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.7 per cent between 2007 and 2014, William said in a new report titled Australia Unified Communications Services Report 2008.
“If you look at UC, I think the uptake is happening in banking and finance, professional services and government departments where they are starting to deploy it in different pockets,” William said. “Healthcare is also starting to see the benefits behind technologies like conferencing and presence.
“It is not hype anymore. There are a lot of IP telephony deployments taking place in the market. What you are going to see over the next couple of years is the adoption of IP accelerate, and that will eat into TDM revenues. These will still grow, but it will decline because IP will be that main platform.”
For a company such as Cisco that predicates much of its UC offerings on having the “right” network infrastructure in place, VoIP is music to its ears.