South african coporates to leap into VolP

Internet Research

Voice communications using Internet standards will be the fastest growing technology application among South African corporations in 2005. More than half the organisations interviewed in a survey conducted by World Wide Worx intend to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the first time this year – on top of a third of that already use the technology.

According to the VoIP in SA 2005 survey, released by World Wide Worx today, VoIP was still an emerging technology in 2004, with 31% of surveyed corporations having implemented it. However, it will see dramatic uptake in 2005, with a total of 78% of the surveyed corporations using it by the end of the year. This suggests the emergence of a highly competitive market, and huge need for education around options, applications, implementation strategies and cost-benefit issues.

“We interviewed technical decision-makers at 100 South African corporations about their adoption and expectations of Voice over IP and least-cost routing – one of the key application areas for VoIP,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx and co-author of the report. “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.”

Says John Joslin, the veteran telecommunications analyst who co-authored the report, “The next decade is expected to witness a rapid transformation of the global communication system from basic telephony to a multimedia broadband network with voice, data, video, photos, instant messaging, TV, radio, and collaboration on a seamless interconnected wireline, wireless, mobile and satellite network based on Internet protocols. Developments over the last two years in the use of IP – the Internet protocol on which the World Wide Werb functions – have turned this vision from a possibility into an inevitability.”

VoIP will significantly enhance the already mature arena of least-cost routing, used by businesses to route outgoing phone calls via the most cost-effective channel. Until now in South Africa, VoIP could be used legally only within an organisation’s own network, saving costs for calls between branches and offices. From February 1, it will be legal to use it for all calls. The survey found that least-cost routing was already deployed extensively in 2004, and will approach saturation in 2005.

Half of the sample of companies interviewed employed more than 1000 employees. However, size was not found to be a major factor in uptake of VoIP, but it did influence other questions asked in the survey, such as the impact VoIP was expected to make on organisations, and satisfaction with existing use of the technology. Companies were also asked to rate the impact of emerging technologies over the next five years, with most rating VoIP as having a far greater impact than the likes of 3G and WiMax, which are seen as potential carriers of VoIP rather than competitors.

The greatest surprise of the survey came in the questions on preferred providers of VoIP and Least-cost routing services. The monopoly fixed-line provider Telkom, widely seen as facing the greatest threat from the legalising of VoIP, was the second most commonly named preferred provider of VoIP. This vindicates a position taken by World Wide Worx in 2004 that Telkom was likely to benefit significantly from VoIP deregulation despite its protestations to the contrary.

“Mobile networks will probably be the biggest beneficiaries of all, but in a more subtle and long-term context,” says Joslin. “The new 3G services are designed to utilise the Internet Protocol in both the core networks of the mobile providers as well as in mobile voice communication itself. IP makes for much richer communication, at lower cost.”

The report also includes Joslin’s in-depth analysis of submissions made by the industry to the telecommunications regulatory authority, Icasa, with detailed recommendations on the best way forward. Icasa plans open hearings on the regulations during January before finalising amendments.

“We have taken the Minister of Communications’ announcement of deregulation at face value,” says Joslin. “This means Icasa should give effect to her intentions via amendments to existing laws, regulations and licences in such a way that the sector is further liberalised rather than more tightly controlled.”

World Wide Worx is also conducting the survey among small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and will release its findings on SME adoption of VoIP before the end of January.

Also read our press release SMEs have not yet found their VoIP, 17 Feb 2004

It’s Easy To Order This Report

This report is available in PDF format at a cost of R5600 excluding VAT. Complete the online order form or call Steven Ambrose on 083 6010333 for any sales queries.

Download the Voice over IP in South Africa 2005 Executive Summary

And VOIP 2005 with a Table of Contents.

Built + Managed by The Yellow Llama