I recently read an article titled Enterprise Technology: IP Telephony Goes to Work
for a business communications class and wrote an article summary. The article itself was a bit old. I never could find the exact date, but the article was making predictions for business trends of 2005. Regardless, the author of this article discusses the emerging and slow evolving technology of IP telephony, which is basically using the internet as a phone. This technology allows businesses to cut costs on phone usage while taking full advantage of their common data network. Some of these features include having a phone call redirected from the office IP phone to a cell phone and having voice mails sent directly to an email inbox. It has been off to a slow start over the past five years, but Michael Desmond, writer for PC World Magazine, feels that within the next five to 10 years, we will begin to see more companies using IP telephony as a replacement for traditional landline phone systems.
Desmond focuses mainly on the business side of IP telephony, and his reasoning makes sense. The biggest advantages make the most senses for business, not individual consumers. However, this technology does have some benefits for individuals. Skype.com
offers a service similar to AOL instant messaging, allowing users to download their program and make calls to other computers using the internet connections. Calling someone in Europe from the US would be a free call granted both parties have Skype. It is free to download, and for a monthly fee, users can use it as a regular phone, making and receiving calls from both Skype and non-Skype customers.
Here is the article summary I composed for Mr. Desmond's article. I got an A on this paper, by the way.
Enterprise Technology: IP Telephony Goes To Work
In this article, Mr. Desmond discussed some of the trends of IP telephony as a major component of business communication. He highlighted the fact this technology is slowly making its way into everyday business, discussing the problems of network capabilities, the cost of upgrading, and the amount of training required to implement such a technology. He also discussed the laundry-list of benefits, such as advanced voice mail capabilities, conference calls and call-forwarding, making calls over the internet instead of phone lines, and a few others.
Mr. Desmond pointed out that while the technology of IP telephony is cutting edge and eventually cost-effective, many companies are apprehensive about jumping into such an endeavor. While the technology is indeed tested and utilized, it does not come without its drawbacks that make the switch from traditional land based phone lines look too risky. First of all, phones that connect directly to the data networks will have to deal with the same limitations as computers. High volumes of network traffic can cause lag time in phone conversations that can slow down the initial call or cause disruptions during the call. However, as network reliability improves and voice-capable network gear becomes more prevalent, this particular objection may soon be irrelevant. Second, the initial cost causes some concern. With traditional land line phone service, most companies already have infrastructure in place and a well working system. Converting to an IP system would require a complete overhaul of the entire phone system within the company. Although it is understood that the variable costs over time will normally be less than paying for a traditional phone service, the initial cost of upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases is enough to make many executives nervous and apprehensive.
So with these apparent disadvantages, does IP telephony have a future? Mr. Desmond says the answer is yes, but he thinks that the real push may still be five to seven years away. In fact, the biggest growth for the beginning of the 21st century has been from smaller organizations, typically with less than 500 employees. Mr. Desmond says that this may be due the flexibility of a smaller company. Larger companies need a high volume of infrastructure which can push the initial cost through the roof, while smaller companies have more room to experiment.
One of the major advantages of this technology is the way in which the system can route calls in such a way as to make a physical coast-to-coast call seem like a local call. Mr. Desmond puts it this way, "...an employee working in Atlanta can call a vendor in Seattle and have that call routed through a corporate gateway in Bellevue, Washington." Thus, what once was a long distance call now becomes a local call through the use of the company data network. When companies talk about cutting costs, eliminating the need for long distance phone services charges is a huge selling point from the IP telephony side. This is one of the many reasons why for many companies this is a good investment in the long run.
IP telephony will have its place in the corporate world. When this will happen is only a matter of time. But when it does, the communication systems between businesses, clients, and customers will never be the same.