VoIP Poised to Take Flight?

Concerns around increased regulation, and security issues temper an otherwise exuberant forecast.

 By Rob McGann
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If everything goes as projected, VoIP (define) penetration will increase from 10 percent of U.S. businesses and organizations in 2005 to 45 percent by the end of 2007, according to the findings of a study conducted by Osterman Research.

The study was based on two online surveys of IT professionals conducted in December, 2004 and January, 2005. The first survey polled 106 respondents selected from Osterman's online panel of approximately 1,000 members, the second polled 103. All were at the manager or administrator level, or "hands-on operations professionals below the CIO level", said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research.

Perceived Potential Benefits of VoIP
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"Our study basically found two things," Osterman said. "VoIP is definitely gaining traction in enterprise, and the primary reason is the perceived cost savings that comes from the technology."

Roughly 60 of survey respondents said the most attractive thing about VoIP would be a reduction in telephony costs. They were also optimistic about the potential benefits of running all their videoconferencing, conference calls, e-mail, instant messaging, and Web access through a single Internet channel.

Convergence Status of Voice and Data Networks
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The survey also found that, while only a minority (16 percent) were in the later stages of integrating their voice and data networks, approximately 75 percent of respondents saw the benefit of such integration and already planned it.

Osterman pointed out two major issues that could dramatically alter an otherwise exuberant growth forecast.

"First of all, if government regulation suddenly increases in this largely under-regulated industry, that could affect the pace of adoption," he said. "The second thing is that VoIP carries with it an enormous potential for security issues."

Osterman cites two key security issues: voice spam and VoIP Phishing. "There's a lot of potential for VoIP phishing, which could pose a higher success rate of stealing information from consumers than the e-mail form of phishing," he said. "I haven't heard of it occurring yet, but it could start happening in a matter of hours."

A recent report issued by Jupiter Research, predicts the number of U.S. households using VoIP will increase from approximately 400,000 at the end of 2004 to 12.1 million in 2009.

This article was originally published on Feb 24, 2005
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