IP telephony, or Internet Protocol telephony deploys the Internet infrastructure to transmit voice and fax calls. IP phone systems digitize voice and transmit it in the form of packets to unique IP addresses designated by the user. Slow to get off the blocks, Internet phone systems have gained significant ground in the recent years.
This is largely due to the rapid rise of convergence as the ultimate destination for communication technology. In this context, voice over ip phone systems are seen as a crucial first step in the march towards achieving seamless low-cost connectivity by integrating data, voice, and video onto a single Internet based platform.
A recent study by META group, a subsidiary of the global consultancy major Gartner, indicates that convergence is fast catching up among businesses across the globe. As per the study, 26 per cent of the Global 2000 Enterprises are in the process of migrating to converged networks, whereas another 42 per cent will be taking it up in the next one to two years. Impressive figures indeed! In the same vein it predicts that the IP lines deployed by the hybrid ´computer phone systems´, are bound to see a 50 per cent growth annually in the coming years. One reason why enterprises are boarding the IP telephony bandwagon is that it enables them to generate substantial cost-savings by using their existing IP infrastructure for voice traffic. Plus, prominent communication equipment vendors, such as UK based Actimax Plc, have clearly cast their mandate in favor of the Internet phone system. Going by the Actimax Web site, the benefits of adopting an IP phone system include:
1. Connecting remote workers at no extra cost
2. Integrating IP applications with telephones to harness the best of two technologies
3. Connecting geographically disparate sites together at no extra call cost
IP telephony – the roadblocks
From the above, the IP phone systems appear simply unstoppable and clearly the future of the global communications. But then why is it still moving at a relatively slow pace? For example, an overwhelming majority of enterprises in upcoming markets still remain unconvinced by its efficacy. In the developed world too the picture is not so rosy. As per estimates put forward by world telecoms major Ericsson, ´pure-play VOIP phone system PBXs account for less than five per cent of customer premises equipment (CPE) shipments´ across the globe. Apart from this, businesses implementing VOIP phone systems too prefer to remain on line with the traditional wire line telephony. The reasons are not hard to find. META group studies point towards the a still lingering adverse public perception about reliability, degree of integration with legacy systems, and the money that needs to be pumped into the new applications.
Besides, a number of countries, including India and China, are still to recognize IP telephony, which puts a big question mark over its usability in these fast growing markets. Apart from this, convergence require a high degree of customization for companies in different sectors. Experts also point out that converged networks are still to come up with common technical standards that are essential to make the technology ubiquitous.
Despite the remaining hurdles, it clearly emerges that the future belongs to converged networks, which means that we are in for a greater proliferation of voice over IP phone systems both at the workplace and in life away from office. The technology has got too many things going for it. After all how can we turn away a system that offers advantages such as greater efficiency and productivity while lowering your total cost of ownership? Those of you who have had a feel of concepts such as ´Computer Telephone Integration´ will know what we are talking about. And, to those still to get a taste of this upcoming communication revolution, we can only say: Go out and try it for yourself. It makes more sense to be an active participant in the technology sweepstakes than to wait and let the convergence wave sweep you off your feet.