One of the main advantages of IP Telephony, mentioned by all the experts we spoke with, is mobility. "I can easily work from home if there's a major traffic accident on the northern beaches and I don't want to have to sit in the car for two hours," says ShoreTel's Tony Warhurst. "I can just start working from home either with a soft phone or assign my extension number to my home phone number and to do that I'm only using a minimal bandwidth through my application that's running my PC to assign that extension number to a PSTN direct number. So I could be doing that even on a 64K dial up link."
"When you start looking at the various applications and the flexibility available in an IP environment and, again I use our business as an example, we have a lot of people who are travelling so mobility offers us a significant advantage by allowing our personnel to work through the different offices that we have," says Pushkar Taneja from Global Connect. "For example, if you were to call me in Sydney I could be sitting in Melbourne logged into the system in Sydney remotely. So when I say remotely, I'm logging onto the Melbourne PABX system and because of my login status and my login IDs the system in Sydney recognises that I am currently residing in Melbourne and any call that comes into the Sydney office automatically gets routed across to Melbourne via our IP infrastructure."
"Another way to look at it is if you have multiple offices, you want to have a distributed environment where you may have a central office and then let's say remote workers, rather than putting in multiple PBXs you can have handsets through the wide area network and again that provides you with a cost effective and centralised managed environment," says Taneja. "For the caller, you could be anywhere, but the system will find you and transfer the call."
Mobility isn't just designed to cater for regional branch offices. "I do a fair amount of travel and at times I could be sitting in another country," says Taneja. "Let's say if I want to make a call to the Sydney environment, I will simply login via my notebook this time using a soft phone function and broadband access and depending on the bandwidth available I can have the voice come through my notebook as well. Now you do have to put your headset on and use a microphone but essentially what I'm doing is instructing the system to make a call but the call gets launched in Sydney so I'm not making a call from overseas into Australia."
Next: What'll it cost?