British businesses see VOIP benefits

UK enterprises are ahead of their European counterparts in the adoption of voice over IP technology, and uptake is not simply driven by the desire to reduce call costs.

UK enterprises are ahead of their European counterparts in the adoption of voice over IP technology, and uptake is not simply driven by the desire to reduce call costs.

Peter Hall, an analyst at Ovum, told delegates at this week’s Communications Management Association (CMA) conference that almost 20% of UK companies had adopted VoIP solutions.

Hall said VoIP enterprise adoption in the UK was not far behind the US, which is also just short of the 20% mark well ahead of Italy, which is number two in the European adoption table.

Businesses in Germany have been surprisingly slow to adopt the technology, although consumers there have taken to VoIP services from the likes of Skype, the analyst noted.

Hall said, “The UK is a leader when it comes to enterprise VoIP, although many companies now aren’t just adopting the technology to cut call costs.”

VoIP can be used by companies to get free or cheaper calls by using IP networks to bypass the public switched telephone network (PSTN), but Hall said other factors were now coming into play.

Hall said strategic investment, employee mobility, and increased productivity now eclipsed reducing call charges as a reason for adopting VoIP.

VoIP is now a driver for companies buying in managed IP VPNs (virtual private networks) from third parties, as part of their strategy to replace traditional private branch exchanges (PBXs).

Hall said, “Hosted IP telephony involves low capital outlay, doesn’t need a great deal of in-house skills, involves a lower total cost of ownership, and can deliver a cheap disaster recovery option.”

With a hosted IP voice service, if there is a business disaster, the managed service provider can quickly move the virtual PBX to another network location.

He said the companies such as BT and Cable & Wireless were already heavily involved in hosted IP voice products and that others, including Colt and MCI, were about to step up their market presence.

Government fears UK could be left behind in comms race

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