Study: South Africa corporate VoIP use to increase

A survey released by local technology research house World Wide Worx last week revealed that VoIP take-up among corporates in South Africa (SA) is expected to increase from 31 per cent to 78 per cent this year.

The survey — VoIP in SA 2005 — polled some 100 companies in SA around their anticipated adoption of and expectations of Voice over IP (VoIP) and least-cost routing (LCR), says World Wide Worx MD, and co-author of the report, Arthur Goldstuck. “With deregulation of telecommunications looming on February 1, it was important for us to understand the impact of VOIP on the Internet in particular and telecommunications in general.”

According to the press release announcing the survey results, voice communications using Internet standards will be the fastest growing technology application among SA corporations in 2005.

The huge expected uptake suggests the emergence of a highly competitive market, and huge need for education around options, applications, implementation strategies and cost-benefit issues, Goldstuck says. Interestingly enough, Telkom SA Ltd. was named by a quarter of the companies surveyed as their preferred provider of VOIP solutions. First up was Cisco Systems Inc., named by more than a third of respondents, according to Goldstuck. “The only other organization to feature significantly was Internet Solutions/Dimension Data,” he adds. ISS/DD was named a preferred provider by 13 per cent of respondents.

Even more interestingly, Goldstuck notes, was the list of named preferred providers of LCR. “Orion and Premicell were way above the rest in terms of LCR provision,” he adds. This is significant because, whilst everyone has been touting the benefits of VoIP for consumers, it is in the corporate space where it will have the most impact, and LCR is seen as a major application area for VOIP. “Far behind those two came companies like Telkom, Autopage, Storm and MTN Network Solutions,” he adds.

Looking forward to deregulation day — February 1 — Goldstuck says that World Wide Worx sees a huge scramble for VOIP marketshare. “The figures show a huge increase in uptake amongst corporates, and there is a lot of business to be had. Everyone and his cousin wants to get in on the action.

“It will be everyone versus Telkom, and in this space the companies in the best position will be the major ISPs. Many of those do not have name recognition yet, but companies like Storm, DataPro and MTN Network Solutions have been positioning themselves in this space for some time. They have a stable product offering and the pedigree to go with it. New companies will be trying to get any agency they can and bundle products in any way that the market will buy. This will result in a lot of dissatisfied customers and fly-by-nights,” he warns.

“Companies do not necessarily need to go for an established provider, but they must make sure there is some pedigree there. New players will need to show that their suppliers, partners and implementation teams have what it takes,” he concludes.