While voice over IP is still in the early phase of adoption, it's starting to go mainstream, says a new study from Infonetics Research, "User Plans for VoIP, North America 2006."

In the three years Infonetics has conducted VoIP adoption surveys as part of their larger study on VoIP usage, one trend is clear: the number of small, medium and large organizations that plan to deploy or at least evaluate the technology is rising steadily. At the same time, awareness of available products and services is increasing, and while awareness doesn't necessarily translate into deployments, it is one of the first obstacles any new technology must overcome.

"Our forecasts show a continued steady uptake of VoIP over the next few years, with adoption following a relatively straight line, not the S-shaped curve typically seen in the adoption of emerging technologies," said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "That's because VoIP uptake is largely tied to an organization needing a new phone system, and when companies buy a new phone system, they generally invest in the latest technology, which happens to be VoIP-based now. By our estimates, almost half of small and two-thirds of large organizations in North America will be using VoIP products and services by 2010."

A number of companies that are moving voice network investments aggressively from TDM to VoIP are actually decommisioning their legacy TDM PBXs, the ultimate show of confidence illustrating that VoIP has become enterprise-grade.

Study Highlights

• 36% of large, 23% of medium, and 14% of small North American organizations interviewed were already using VoIP products and services in 2005. • VoIP adoption will triple by 2010 among small organizations in North America. • The top drivers for deploying VoIP are having an integrated phone system across multiple locations, scalability, operational cost savings, and converging voice and data networks. • Next to basic voice, money saving long distance/toll bypass is the highest ranked application for VoIP. • The percent of users at respondent sites accessing VoIP over wireless LANs grows from 5% in 2006 to 20% in 2008. • Among respondents using in-house VoIP, the most commonly used protocols for their IP-phone endpoints now and in 2008 are SIP and the four versions of H.323. • Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel, the top PBX manufacturers in North America, head the list of manufacturers of VoIP products currently in use (IP PBXs, gateways and IP phones). • Organizations spent an average of $47,667 on hosted VoIP in 2005, growing 34% to $63,799 in 2007; for managed CPE, expenditures grow from $10,865 in 2005 to $28,367 in 2007.

Infonetics conducted in-depth interviews with 240 small, medium and large organizations that use VoIP products and/or services now or will by 2007, as well as 450 shorter interviews to determine VoIP adoption rates, and 150 exit interviews to determine why organizations are not deploying VoIP. Most respondents use in-house VoIP, some use managed VoIP services, and others use a combination of the two.