The Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market is on track to reach $88 billion by 2018, according to a recent Fierce Telecom article (Tweet This!). Part of this growth comes from increased adoption by small and home offices (SOHO), but several emerging trends are also converging to push the VoIP market forward. Here are five to watch:
1. Unified Communications (UC)
Many experts see VoIP technology as the first step towards a fully Unified Communications (UC) environment. Along with voice, UC solutions allow users to communicate regardless of device or network, and ideally in real time. Key elements that make up UC include:
- Unified messaging: Single mailbox for email, texts and voicemails
- Multimedia support for voice, video and images
- Enhanced, real time collaboration
2. VoIP-as-a-Service (VaaS)
To handle the resource requirements of unified deployments, companies are starting the move to public clouds. This is especially true for small and midsize businesses that don't have the capital on hand to finance a private branch exchange (PBX) system; off-premises technologies offer scalable resources that can be leveraged on a pay-per-month basis.
Bottom line? Cloud telephony providers typically offer lower prices and increased system uptime, along with IT services at the provider end rather than requiring in-house VoIP professionals.
3. Mobile VoIP
Tied into the burgeoning bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, mobile VoIP is also gaining ground. A subset of unified communications, mobile VoIP is critical for companies with employees who work from home or who are required to travel often.
Mobile VoIP is also about convenience; executives and front-line staff alike want their tablet or smartphone to act as a single point of contact regardless of who's calling or where they're calling from. Expect to see a marked increase in mobile devices as endpoints for corporate telephony, bolstered by the rise of 4G networks and improved device efficiency.
4. VoIP Security
The evolution of VoIP technology also comes with a risk: security. As noted by Tech Republic, there are currently two major VoIP standards: H.323 and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). While the "better" choice for your business depends on usage needs and cost, both fall short of traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN) when it comes to security.
The biggest problem? Denial of service (DoS) attacks, where the attackers overwhelm a system with spoofed cancel and hang-up messages. It's also possible to eavesdrop on VoIP conversations, and to create a fake proxy controlled by a rogue server.
Improved data encryption, real time antivirus software and the use of dedicated VoIP networks are all trending as ways to improve security. In addition, the rise of "VoIP peering," or direct IP-to-IP communications, should also make calls much more difficult to compromise.
5. The IP Transition
According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, the time of "IP Transition" has begun. This transition is a shift from physical networks built for a single purpose to IP-based networks used for multiple functions. To facilitate this transition, the FCC plans to expedite the move to IP systems using what Wheeler calls the "network compact." This compact will ensure public safety, universal access, competition and consumer protection.
In other words, expect to see increased oversight and regulation of the VoIP market. Businesses should also anticipate the creation of multiple-use networks that use IP addresses as core identifiers, rather than telephone numbers or names.
The VoIP market is evolving thanks to cloud-based and mobile technologies, prompting the development of unified systems, the improvement of security protocols and the transition from "copper" networks to IP-based solutions.
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Author Bio: John Grady is the Senior Manager of Product Marketing at XO Communications, a primary provider of integrated data, voice and other unified communication services to businesses of all sizes. In this role John launched XO Communications award winning 100G Service, as well as XO's WAN solution.