VoIP: A Look Behind the Hype

The Promise

Still, the ability to eliminate the parallel voice and data networks most companies support today combined with the unified messaging VoIP enabled phone systems promise to provide, and you have a pretty compelling cost-cutting and value-add proposition.

Then there is the promise of true mobility, i.e. no longer will you need a cell-phone, and a Blackberry and a pager, you simply take your corporate extension with you wherever you go and you are plugged into the network; able to receive voice, email and fax messages all through the same line at the same time.

“It’s almost the logical way to go,” said Jones. “You would not invest in an old technology PBX now because there’s the converged applications that are coming. There’s the promise that we don’t have to discriminate on the networks between data and any sort of communications traffic, which opens up boundless possibilities for getting services anywhere.”

This is why many companies are toying with IP telephony in one way or another. According to ABI Research, in 2001/2002 most deployments were simply IP-enabled PBX seats utilizing the corporate WAN to save on inter-office voice traffic toll charges. By 2006, 90% of the predicted 26 million new IP-PBX seats, however, will be on all-IP systems.

Limited Roll Outs

Today, most deployments are taking place either in regional offices that require better communications capabilities, greenfield deployments or when companies (mostly small companies) finally retire old PBX systems. And this trend is not expected to change anytime soon, said Mark Uncapher, vice president and council for the Information Technology Association of America.

“Back six-years ago there was this sense that VoIP was just around the corner,” he said. “And, it’s still today, a little hard to get your hands on how many customers there are really.”

Asmundson believes some 10% of enterprises have some VoIP deployments while IR’s research indicates 56% percent. But even Jones admits this number is skewed somewhat high in IR’s recent survey of 2,800 IT and telecom managers. Still, the message is clear, VoIP is making its way into the reality of enterprise life, it may just take a little longer to get here than anyone thought six years ago.

“The biggest thing to come out of the survey for us is people are still going to pilot or have small deployments for the next 12-to-24 months,” said Jones. “The roll-out of very large deployments over 2,000 phones is not happening. It’s still puttering on.”