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Can You VoIP Me Now?
[June 22, 2005]

Can You VoIP Me Now?


By ROBERT LIU
TMCnet Wireless and Technology Columnist

Of all intelligent network technologies, VoIP is the leading technology that service providers are embracing to move their business interactions closer to real time, according to a survey by Cisco Systems. But while VoIPs potential couldn't be understated as a value-added service to increase average revenue per user, another study currently conducted by Keynote Systems is examining service quality perceptions among end-users.

At Cisco's annual user conference this week in Las Vegas, networking engineers and other attendees rated VoIP as the top technology for facilitating real-time interactions among service providers, commercial customers and the partner community with routing following as a second choice. For enterprises, routing was considered the most important technology for real-time interactions.

Networking professionals are also using varying channels to access real-time information; for example, 57 percent of the respondents from small- to mid-size commercial organizations indicated they are connecting PDAs to their networks. Also service providers, which are building or supporting WiFi hotspots as an adjunct to their business, are the most likely to connect to their internal networks from public WiFi points to boost real-time interactions.

"Our customers are discovering that technology and business solutions enabling real-time operation can mean competitive advantage and sustained growth," says Charles Giancarlo, chief technology officer of Cisco.

But while service providers hope to migrate in full force, VoIP has only started to enter the social consciousness, and most consumer deployments repeatedly cited cost-savings as the underlying rational to migrate from traditional Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) to an IP infrastructure.

"Though other studies quantify the cost-savings of VoIP and associated service features, the key driver behind residential adoption is the dial-tone reliability and superior voice quality with minimum disruptions that consumers have come to expect with traditional telephone service," said Dharmesh Thakker, senior product manager for Keynote service level management at Keynote.

As such, Keynote Systems, the authors of the Internet Health Report that has become a de-facto standard for measuring IP backbone latency, is extending its expertise into the VoIP arena with a new study to benchmark the service quality as perceived by end users.

"The highly-quantifiable Keynote VoIP study sheds light on how well VoIP providers stack up relative to traditional phone service, and who is providing the best quality of service for consumers in two large U.S. cities," Thakker said.

The study, which is believed to be the most in-depth of its kind, will only compare service in San Francisco and New York. The study compares the quality based on 10 performance metrics to accurately benchmark the service. Six leading VoIP providers are included in the study: AT&T CallVantage, Packet 8, Primus Lingo, Skype, Verizon and Vonage. To understand the impact of underlying network performance on call quality, the VoIP telephone calls are carried on three T1 networks: AT&T, Sprint, and UUNET.

The market for hosted IP voice services among U.S. businesses is expected to reach nearly $60 million by the end of 2004, according to IDC which projects a compound annual growth rate of 282% to reach $7.6 billion in 2008.

"With all of the market conditions in alignment, VoIP is finally poised to overtake and replace the aging but reliable circuit switched infrastructure," says William Stofega, senior research analyst, VoIP Services, IDC.

TMCnet will be hosting an exclusive webinar with Keynote Systems' Dharmesh Thakker on July 12 to discuss the findings of the VoIP QoS study. To gain insight into how end-users perceive VoIP service providers and network carriers, register for the free webinar by clicking here.
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Robert Liu is executive editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was executive editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles by Robert Liu, click here.

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