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Mind Share
May 2004


Marc Robins

Springtime For IP Telephony

BY MARC ROBINS


It appears that my timing couldn�t be any better. Although you might think the revival of my long-running Mind Share column was due to some well-plotted strategy to capitalize on the new vitality coursing through the IP telephony marketplace (I�ll admit the glimmer of such a thought did cross my mind), it is really due more to pure serendipity.

It�s been about a year since my column last ran, and what a difference a year makes! Just when we started thinking that we�d never shake the downturn doldrums, a raft of new products, new services, and new major deployments � and not least a steady stream of positive news from analysts and The Street � have all served to provide the traction the industry has been craving. Customers are finally buying and investments are being made again. Vendors are even starting to boost headcount. And perhaps most importantly, innovation and development are continuing their steady march (just look at all the new startups entering the game).

Notes From The Field
My recent travels to industry conferences and trade shows, including TMC�s Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO and VON, have revealed a level of optimism and excitement � not to mention attendance � I haven�t seen since the golden days of late 1999. This time, however, there�s a major difference. A number of factors are finally in place to propel the commercial adoption of IP telephony products and services to new heights � including maturing industry products and standards, widespread broadband connectivity, and IP ubiquity. The feeling is � unlike the irrational euphoria during the bubble time � that This Time It�s For Real.

And while confidence levels seem to be at a multi-year high, there are also some strong indicators to back it up. During a recent conversation I had with Bahaa Moukadam, VP of IP Telephony Performance Analysis at Spirent Communications, a leading network and telephony test equipment vendor, he told me that business is picking up smartly. As you may know, testing equipment vendors, in principle, are great bellwethers of industry health. They usually see a pickup a quarter or two before the rest of the industry, as solutions vendors and service providers start to test new products and run networks through their paces. Spirent is an especially good bellwether in this case, as they recently introduced a comprehensive, new test platform called the Abacus 5000 IP Telephony Test Migration System, capable of emulating an entire VoIP/PSTN network in a single system.

Other discussions with other folks playing in different market segments also served to boost the spirit. From IP-PBX vendors like Mitel, who are enjoying huge success with their new solutions, to �start-up� carriers like AT&T and their new suite of VoIP services (a huge validation for broadband VoIP), things are certainly looking up.

Being Trendy
Another reason for Mind Share 2.0 is I really couldn�t pass up another opportunity to share my ruminations with you, dear reader, on the important technology trends, innovations, and notable companies, products, and services that make up this great industry (I�ll take the rotten veggies and �job well-dones� with equal aplomb). In this column, over the next several months, I plan to focus on a number of leading trends that are helping to define the industry and drive it forward. Please feel free to share your thoughts and special discoveries, especially as they relate to IP-PBX deployments, hosted communications services (such as IP Centrex and hosted IP-PBX), WiFi telephony, Wireline/Wireless network integration, presence-powered collaborative communications solutions, video conferencing (yes, it�s there and back again), and security solutions.

Marc Robins has been involved in the telecommunications industry as a researcher and analyst, author and publisher, and marketing executive and consultant for more than 23 years. Marc recently served for five years as Vice President of Publications and Trade Shows and Group Editorial Director at TMC. Most recently, Marc launched a new consulting and marketing services company offering an array of professional services to the IP telephony industry, and he is also publishing a number of new information resources for prospective buyers of the technology. Contact Marc at 718-548-7245 or send e-mail to robinsconsult@optonline.net.

[ Return To The May 2004 Table Of Contents ]



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