Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  06 Apr 2010

VoIP: Now is the Time to Take Advantage Of VoIP Technology


Recent Gauteng Business News

Voice over IP (VoIP) is not a new technology, and has been available for a few years in the local market, yet the uptake of this technology, particularly in the corporate space, has been slow due to a number of issues.

The most significant uptake of VoIP has been in the consumer space with tools like Skype, because for business the lack of available bandwidth led to poor voice quality, which made it unattractive for conducting mission critical voice conversations. Added to this was the expense required to create a VoIP infrastructure, which further detracted from the appeal of this model.

Another barrier to entry was the lack of infrastructure, not simply within the organisation but nationally as well. The technology did not exist to implement an effective VoIP system over data networks and the potential to expand as a result was not there.

However, since the deregulation of VoIP in South Africa, this field has opened up new opportunities for VoIP service providers. The number of service providers out there has been steadily growing for the last couple of years, creating more competition and essentially leading to the price barrier being lowered, making VoIP a more affordable option than before. And with the landing of the SEACOM cable last year, bandwidth has also become more available and affordable, removing another barrier to entry for VoIP adoption.

Of all the functions available using VoIP technology Least Cost Routing has been most widely adopted, not just for large corporations but in the SME space as well. Most IP PBX's are capable of Least Cost Routing, which routes mobile calls through one trunk and fixed line calls through another.

However, with the maturation of VoIP technology new applications are becoming more easily available and are being adopted in the local market.

With improved broadband infrastructure and well designed QOS policies in place the quality of bandwidth has improved and VoIP has evolved into a feature rich service that can be deployed across enterprises in the form of triple play solutions, which combine voice, data and video over a single network. And with new developments, quadruple play has come into effect which can connect mobile devices to equipment for use as a VoIP client.

For smaller businesses, VoIP offers a host of benefits. A traditional PBX costs thousands of Rands and requires technical experts to set up and maintain. An IP PBX is less than half the price of a traditional model, and can be installed by anyone with basic technological skills using the existing internal network infrastructure. IP telephone handsets have also become much more cost effective, for example the Yealink range that retails from R650 excluding VAT. Support and maintenance can also be conducted in-house, bringing enterprise class telephony within reach of SMEs. In addition smaller businesses can now take advantage of the savings offered by IP telephony.

While initially true VoIP telephony has been slow on the uptake in South Africa, developments along the infrastructure line as well as increased competition have reduced costs and lowered the barriers to entry, and the local market is now better able to take advantage of the host of benefits this technology offers.

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