VoIP adoption had a slow start in South Africa, but over the last five years has steadily gained momentum, with the number of users almost doubling each year. Riaan Leuschner, MD of Nology, takes a closer look at VoIP’s feasibility in the country.
The growth of VOIP is largely due to the removal or reduction of a number of barriers to entry, including bandwidth availability issues, interconnection fees and the lowered costs associated with the broadband connections necessary to use VoIP technology. The growing popularity of open source systems on VoIP has also opened up the market.
The result has been simplification of implementation and maintenance, making VoIP more attractive to smaller businesses which make up the vast majority of the local economy. Additionally, the ever improving quality of bandwidth, as well as the ability to take advantage of major cost savings thanks to interconnection agreements between operators makes VoIP a more realistic option to replace fixed line telecommunications.
Further increasing the attractiveness of VoIP is the availability of High Definition (HD) voice. This technology uses wideband technology to double the sampling rate of the transmission, providing deeper clarity and far better quality of voice.
Apart from the cost savings afforded by any VoIP technology, HD voice offers a number of additional benefits. Because the clarity is so much greater, interfacing with customers is far easier, and productivity can be improved as understanding can be achieved quickly, regardless of accents and different inflections. This means less repeated statements, and less wasted time. It also helps to improve the professional image of the company and reduces frustration caused by poor communication lines.
As with all new technology, the price of HD voice handsets was initially high, but is steadily decreasing and new entry level models are now available which will appeal to smaller organisations. These tools can also interface with existing PBXs so that a forklift upgrade is not necessary.
Added to this the availability of integrated VoIP PBX systems that are cheaper and easier to install and maintain than traditional PBX, either hardware based or as a hosted service, and VoIP has become a highly attractive option in the South African market, and we can expect the growth of this technology to continue into the future.