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I see that the latest buzz in the VoIP world is a report by research house IBISWorld on the state of the VoIP industry as of the end of last year. IBISWorld revealed only a small fraction of its findings – one has to buy the full report to learn them all. That, of course, is totally reasonable given the nature of their business.

But even the small bits they did reveal were just sooo tantalizing.

VoIP, they estimate, is now an industry with $15 billion in annual revenue. Its annual growth rate from 2007-20012 was 16.7%. They also estimate that there are 35,164 people employed in the VoILP industry, working at some 860 companies., for whom I’m blogging, is obviously one of those 860. The biggest share of the loot, though, is in residential VoIP, rather than in the arena of business VoIP. Cable companies, for instance, gobble up some 65% of the VoIP lines … mostly residential accounts.

That, to me, is hardly a surprise since the traditional “telephone” companies are still desperately trying to protect their legacy phone business, whereas the cable companies have nothing to lose by venturing into VoIP and grabbing customers from those millions who already watch the TV shows they deliver.

So where does all of this leave business VoIP? Says IBISWorld, “Businesses will slowly but surely turn to VoIP for voice needs.” And that’s where specialists come in … VoIP providers whose forte is providing the type of services that businesses need, such as virtual switchboards, calling queues that are not only easily established but also easily changed, and remote extension anywhere in the world with the flexibility to transparently change their location in an instant.

IBISWorld also warns that wildcards, such as Google Voice, could easily change to VoIP landscape. But when I look around at projects such as Google Voice, Skype, MagicJ, OOma and a plethora of other free or near-free VoIP efforts, I don’t see a lot of medium or long term danger to real business VoIP providers. Indeed I’ve had more than one small business friend tell me about how cheap his phone service is, only to not long after bemoan his loss of a business deal or two because such service just isn’t the right thing for a business. His illusory savings were more than wiped out by his lost business.

Lesson learned. In the long run, you get what you pay for, and in VoIP that means a provider such as who cares about the needs of business, and provides both the infrastructure and customer service that a business needs … to do its business.


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