IT taps into the VoIP revolution

Large telcos are looking over their shoulders as VoIP (voice over internet protocol) providers iron out the technology’s bugs and promise small business big savings.

The web-based technology has taken a leap forward from a compromise for home users who don’t want a costly landline – to a serious option for business owners looking to streamline their telco services.

As configuration issues such as poor call quality and network drop outs are becoming a thing of the past, opportunity also abounds for IT companies looking to extend their services.

SmallBizVoip co-founder Scott Bishop is among those leading the charge. He says VoIP is almost certain to become concurrent with IT service providing.

“Traditionally we’re a computer company but we’ve taken the business in a different direction. Being computer experts we were able to speed it up (the transition) and dedicate manpower to the development of VoIP,” says Bishop.

“As VoIP is focused around the IT industry’s technology, it is a lot easier for IT companies to provide support for this service than the traditional telecommunications companies. The amount of learning that is required and the difference in technologies makes it much more efficient to educate from that area (IT).”

According to Bishop the problems previously associated with VoIP are no longer holding back the cost-efficient technology. He says call quality issues such as crackling and poor reception are caused by badly provisioned systems or configuration by inexperienced and unqualified technicians.

“Now that ADSL2+ is readily available it means fast broadband speeds are quite cheap and capable of carrying voice data with ease,” he says.

“Another common question is ‘what happens to VoIP when the internet connection goes down?’ In this case the VoIP connection is redirected to available PSTN lines so that communications are maintained until the internet comes back online.”

While using VoIP immediately generates savings on line rentals and costs of phone calls, Bishop says the benefits are vast.

“A key point in cost-saving is in a multiple business system where you may have offices in Brisbane and on the Coast,” he says.

“With VoIP, calling between multiple offices is free because they are not crossing over phone lines. Businesses that need to communicate between each other in this fashion can save large amounts. PBX equipment also allows businesses to use up to 64 internal handsets on a single VoIP system.”

With the backing of Gold Coast telco giant Gotalk – a major player in the commercialisation of VoIP as a business option – Bishop expects VoIP to be taken far more seriously as a viable option for business, especially when the cost benefits are fully understood.

“We have a good relationship with Gotalk and while we can use other providers we try to stick with them. We’ve built the product and brand around their services,” he says.

Gotalk managing director Steve Picton, says the improved VoIP product will play a large part in his company’s forecasted revenue growth of up to 10 per cent.

“Gotalk has again won the battle to claim Australia’s best value and most economical VoIP service, beating all other VoIP competitors in the annual ‘best of the best’ awards conducted by the recognised independent telecommunications industry research organisation Phonechoice,” he says.

Picton says gotalk is ‘a small fish in a big pond’, but the company has a significant market share in many of the areas it operates.

“As a relatively small player in a large market dominated by the likes of Telstra and Optus, I am extremely proud of the fact that although gotalk is a small fish in a big pond, it owns 20 per cent market share of all international traffic originating from Australia,” he says.

Bishop agrees that VoIP is offering a gateway for smaller payers to take on the communications giants.

“The big telco corporations are starting to offer VoIP services but are not actively promoting them so their consumers aren’t aware that it’s a real option,” he says.

“Serious savings can be achieved, especially when making a lot of STD calls. You’re not paying typically for point A to point B and the calls aren’t timed.”

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