Whats So Cool About VOIP?

I got a lot of mail asking why Cisco and 3Com weren't in my Oct. 21 analysis of voice over IP (VoIP) product platforms.

I got a lot of mail asking why Cisco and 3Com werent in my Oct. 21 analysis of voice over IP (VoIP) product platforms. Nortel Networks Ltd. and Avaya Inc. did yeoman work to get equipment and engineers in place to respond to the RFP and set up equipment. We were very favorably impressed with these companies ability to quickly turn our test plans into ringing telephones and packet switching infrastructure.

Cisco declined to be a part of this story, but company officials indicated that they were interested in being a part of future stories if they had more lead-time and a more specific RFP. 3Com, to its credit, admitted from the start that its NBX system could not scale to the 10,000 IP handsets called for in the second stage of the RFP.

I should have explained the absence of these two obvious VoIP players in the story. One thing I learned in putting this package together is that it takes a lot more time to set up for a VoIP test than it does for the network and systems tests that are the heart of my beat.

But the other thing I learned is that while readers who wrote in were concerned about the absence of these companies, very few readers questioned the main premise of my story—that VoIP applications, more than cost reductions, would drive consideration of converging voice and data traffic onto the same network.

Our unscientific online poll shows that a clear majority of respondents are considering VoIP to reduce operational costs, not because of new applications that might show up in the future. I was glad to see that very few of our polltakers were hoping to reduce capital costs, because my work on the story showed that this is very likely not going to be the case.

VoIP applications, along with the convergence (a nasty swearword in the telephony world, but one that I think still makes sense) of voice and data traffic onto one network, will likely drive down long-term operational costs. Id love to hear from readers about applications theyd like to see come out of a VoIP implementation.

In my story, I cited a call center application as one such VoIP app that improves productivity . Currently, call center agents usually work in a central, specialized location. It is very difficult using traditional telephone technology to distribute call center traffic to geographically dispersed agents. It is an application that is relatively easy to do with VoIP. Are there other applications that you are thinking about for a possible VoIP implementation?