IDC: IP telephony still holds promise for VARs

Even though increasingly simple VoIP technology is convincing many companies to opt for self-installed IP telephony systems, a recent IDC survey of 250 Australian companies found that value-added resellers (VARs) have many opportunities to cash in on the sector's growth.

Of the 250 surveyed companies, 19 per cent were considering self-deployed IP telephony, buoyed by the ease of installation of new kits. Increasingly sophisticated offerings available now let VARs focus less on technology and more on adding value through customer care, billing and related consulting, according to senior IDC analyst, Susana Vidal.

Equally buoyant is managed IP telephony, which caters even for small companies.

VARs such as Giant Concepts and VID offer low-cost IP telephony bundles and hosted SIP services built around the open-source Asterisk PABX system. There are also opportunities to resell wholesale services from providers like MyTel and iVox.

These solutions compete with IP Centrex services from Telstra, Optus, AAPT and others, but IDC found there was enough opportunity to go around: half of the medium-sized companies and 90 per cent of small businesses plan to buy a managed or hosted IP telephony service in the next few years.

Vidal says this could mean big wins for VARs with the right stuff.

"Australian businesses will not remain loyal to a specific service provider because of brand, but will choose among any new service provider that can offer an adequate quality of service, network, good customer service and easy billing at the right price," she said.