It’s been a roller coaster week in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry as the sour economy plays a poker game of sorts with companies and vendors using the technology. Some firms are holding their own, even reporting a Royal Flush of sorts, while the economy has other industry insiders holding their cards with just a two pair.
Here’s a summary of some of the top happenings around the VoIP industry this past week.
The economic downturn seems to be impacting IP lines for the PBX (News - Alert) market, and not necessarily for the better. According to the Dell’Oro Group, a firm that gathers market information about the networking and telecommunications industries, IP lines are predicted to decline for the first time this year, TMCnet reported. Meanwhile, VoIP penetration is expected to grow this year, but at a slower pace compared to previous years.
“For 2009, we anticipate a degree of vendor volatility that will cause many customers to stay on the sidelines for a longer period of time than we would expect if downward pressure was coming only from the weakened economy,” Alan Weckel, director at Dell’Oro Group, said in a statement.
Despite the economy, some companies, including an Encinitas, CA (News - Alert)-based business VoIP provider, seem to be faring well. FreedomVOICE Systems, the developer and marketer of FreedomIQ business VoIP service, announced this week it was rewarding its employees with a free trip to Hawaii for helping the firm reach a “significant” company benchmark. The free, paid vacation is the result of the company’s growth in the virtual office industry. Company officials said the FreedomIQ Hosted VoIP PBX is performing well and the firm is signing up new users daily for the service, TMCnet reported.
FreedomVOICE (News - Alert) sells a comprehensive slate of integrated virtual office solutions, including toll-free numbers, which allow business owners to enhance their company image, communicate seamlessly with customers, and track marketing effectiveness. It offers users an average cost savings of 40 percent to 70 percent.
That wasn’t the only bright spot to hit the VoIP industry this week. Hosted VoIP provider 8x8 (News - Alert) reports that, despite current economic climate, the company added a record number of new subscribers to its Virtual Office hosted VoIP phone service in the first quarter of 2009.
According to TMC, 8x8 added about 15 percent more new subscribers than the previous quarter. A company release said the boost in subscribership is due to the fact that there’s a “crop of new business start-ups” out there “whose entrepreneurial founders had perhaps suddenly found themselves unemployed and ready to take destiny into their own hands.”
That’s not all. The company also announced it into Infonetics Research’s (News - Alert) new North America Business VoIP Services Leadership Matrix, which analyzes and ranks the top service providers in the VoIP business services market. 8x8 also recently formed a new partnership with Aastra to launch co-branded IP business phones.
And speaking of business, Cisco, the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear announced a fleet of new products and services designed to improve productivity and help users ramp up their competition. As TMCnet reported, the company expanded its Cisco Small Business and Cisco Small Business Pro portfolios to include than 100 purpose-built products.
For instance, the Cisco Small Business Pro series, which is designed so partners can build, install and manage systems that support small business' technology needs, now features the Cisco ESE 500 Series Switches, high-performance managed Ethernet switches eliminate network downtime and prevent business disruptions. The solution is designed to improve small business productivity and customer responsiveness, the company said.
What’s more, Cisco added a new solution with the Cisco SPA8800 IP Telephony Gateway, which allows small businesses to connect their Open Source IPPBX to existing analog phones and fax machines.
The company also made enhancements to Cisco Smart Business Communications System with Release 1.5. The collaboration and communications system connects offices, employees and customers. The new version features WebEx PhoneConnect, which allows small businesses to view meetings and join online conferences on Cisco IP phones; Cisco TimeCardView, which permits staff to clock in and out, track hours and download information to payroll applications from their IP phone and third-party network monitoring and management applications.
Be sure to visit TMCnet for the latest IP Communications industry news. Check back next week for more on VoIP.
Edited by Amy Tierney