VoIP to find receptive ears in 2002

The slow but steady adoption rate of VoIP (voice over IP) technology will continue in 2002, but could get an additional boost as more enterprises catch on to the administration and application payoffs offered by the technology.

Those were among the findings published last week by the Boston-based research firm The Yankee Group Inc. The firm predicted that sales of PBXs (public branch exchanges) would jump this year by 25 per cent over last year, to a total of 2,975,000. In addition, Tier 1 carriers will rush to adopt toll-grade IP telephony by the fourth quarter, thanks to the onset of new solutions that provide toll-quality VoIP, security, and traffic engineering services.

Moreover, vendors will roll out VoIP security products in 2002, helping to coax leery CTOs to adopt the technology, according to the research firm.

“Security should always be at the top of [enterprises’] minds,” said Zeus Karravala, a Yankee Group analyst. “If it’s not, you’re going to put your customers at risk, which in essence puts you at risk. VoIP services are just as vulnerable as any other IP services. The phone is the lifeblood for a lot of companies. They can probably do without their computer systems for a while, but doing without your phones is a lot harder. So protecting that has to be taken to the next level.”

The Yankee Group also predicted that the number of VoIP phones in Canada will jump by more than 300 per cent over the year, and that 10 per cent of Latin American incumbent carriers will use VoIP for long-distance calling by the end of 2002.

Much of the adoption will be driven by incumbent equipment makers that had previously not played in the VoIP market, but have been impressed by the success of some of their peers, according to Karravala.

“[The incumbent vendors] always wanted to sell their legacy products before,” Karravala said. “Now that companies like Cisco and 3Com have had some success with [VoIP], they’ve jumped in the game as well. People can tell you that soup’s good food, but when Campbell’s comes out and says it, you start to believe it more.”