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VoIP will soon be 'mainstream'

A recent study by Infonetics Research found that VoIP use in the enterprise will more than double by 2010, and VoIP could soon be considered mainstream technology.

VoIP is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and it will probably be considered a mainstream technology in companies of all sizes within the next four years.

In a recent study, Infonetics Research found that VoIP is ready to break free of the early-adopter chains and bust its way into mass migration.

"Our forecasts show a continued steady uptake of VoIP over the next few years, with adoption following a relatively straight line, not an S-shaped curve typically seen in the adoption of emerging technologies," said Matthias Machowinski, a directing analyst with Infonetics and the study's author.

For the past three years, Infonetics has conducted VoIP adoption surveys, according to the report, and each year the trend becomes more clear: The number of small, midsized and large companies planning to deploy or evaluate VoIP is steadily on the rise. The study also found that companies are becoming more aware of VoIP products and services.

"While awareness doesn't necessarily translate into deployments, it is one of the first obstacles any new technology must overcome," the study says.

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In what Infonetics called the "ultimate show of confidence" in VoIP, the study also found that there is an aggressive move from TDM to VoIP. In many cases, companies are phasing out their legacy TDM PBXs in favor of an all-VoIP system.

The study results are based on in-depth interviews with 240 small, midsized and large companies that use VoIP products or services now or will do so by next year. Infonetics also conducted 450 shorter interviews to determine VoIP adoption rates, and 150 exit interviews to determine why organizations are not deploying VoIP. Most of the respondents use in-house VoIP, according to the study, but some use managed VoIP services or some combination of both.

"…VoIP uptake is largely tied to an organization needing a new phone system, and when companies buy a new phone system, they generally invest in the latest technology, which happens to be VoIP-based now," Machowinski said. "By our estimate, almost half of small and two-thirds of large organizations in North America will be using VoIP products and services by 2010."

The study found that 36% of large, 23% of midsized, and 14% of small North American companies interviewed were already using VoIP in some fashion in 2005. Based on that, Infonetics suggests that VoIP adoption will triple by 2010 in small organizations in North America.

In 2005, organizations spent an average of $47,667 on hosted VoIP, but that is expected to grow 34% by 2007, reaching $63,799. And for managed customer premises equipment, expenditures are expected to grow from $10,865 in 2005 to $28,367 in 2007, an increase of more than 160%.

Some of the biggest drivers boosting VoIP deployments are companies craving integrated phone systems across several locations, scalability, operational cost savings, and converging voice and data networks, the study indicates. Next to basic voice, Infonetics found the highest ranked VoIP application was money-saving long distance and toll bypass services. And the most commonly used protocol for IP phone endpoints now and over the next three years will be session initiation protocol (SIP), trailed by the four versions of the H.323 protocol.

The study also predicts that the proportion of users accessing VoIP over wireless LANs will jump from 5% this year to 20% in 2008.

According to the study, Cisco Systems, Avaya and Nortel Networks are still the top three PBX manufacturers in North America and also top the list of manufacturers of VoIP products that are currently in use, such as IP PBXs, gateways and IP phones.

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