IP PHONES EXTEND GAIN OVER CIRCUIT PHONES

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The Internet Protocol (IP) communications market for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) could be worth $9 billion by 2006, according to research conducted by Cisco Systems, based on analyst forecasts in EMEA.

Raymond Janse van Rensburg, consulting systems engineer, Cisco EMEA, says there is a growing trend towards IP comms, because it is a more cost-effective and efficient technology, as it allows phones and computers to use the same network.

According to Gartner, traditional enterprise telephony system manufacturers in EMEA will cease development, but not necessarily production, by the end of 2007. Vendors have announced their intention to discontinue support for their TDM-based PBX and contact centre systems within five years.

Janse van Rensburg says Cisco is the global market leader in IP telephony. Its two million IP phones shipped are more than all its competitors combined. "Globally it also has the number one market share in technologies that support IP telephony - including gateways, routers, call managers and switches. The company is also launching a broad product portfolio including the world’s first XML-ready wireless IP phone and a new colour IP phone."

In SA, the most uptake is in the manufacturing and financial industries, which have traditionally been quick to integrate IP communications, he says. "But in 2004 we are seeing tremendous growth in other vertical sectors, such as retail, logistics and the public sector."

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that another vendor, Vonage, has signed up its 100 000th customer, "representing a doubling of its subscriber base in less than five months".

Vonage has said it is targeting 250 000 customers by the end of this year and it is expanding internationally. The company recently struck a deal with Texas Instruments in which the chipmaker will build circuits that make it simpler for customers to set up Internet phone-calling without additional connection equipment.

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