Micro firms driving VoIP adoption

Micro firms in London are the likeliest businesses in the UK to be using internet-enabled phone systems, according to new research.

In fact, out of firms trading in the capital that have a minimum of two employees – including the owner-manager – one in three currently use a VoIP system to connect with their clients.

Generally, the smaller the business - the higher the likelihood net telephony will be running, suggesting budget-focused businesses are actively taking advantage of free or low cost calls.

Across the UK, the number of small businesses – defined as those with no more than ten employees, which use VoIP calling is forecast to almost double by this time next year.

That means 48% of small businesses will run a VoIP service by March 2008, compared to about 25% today, says the research by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by BT.

Yet among businesses with up to 50 people on the payroll, just 20% plan to use VoIP in the next 12 months, mainly because it supports flexible and remote working for their staff.

The reason so many smaller outfits are using, or plan to use, Web-enabled phone systems is due to the low cost and convenience it affords compared to traditional telephones.

However these incentives are failing to impress businesses in Wales, which were least likely to be using a VoIP system in their office, the research found.

Conversely, one third of small firms in London use VoIP to communicate, followed by business in the North East (24%), the South West (23%) and in Northern Ireland (20%).

“There has been a huge increase in the use of VoIP by the UK's smaller businesses and that looks set to continue,” said Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business.

“However, there is a large proportion of the community, particularly medium sized businesses, who could still benefit from understanding more about VoIP and using it to the best advantage of their business.”

Making VoIP calls over a broadband connection gives a cost-effective additional line, as well as offering capped-price calls to mobile and international destinations, BT said.

“VoIP also gives you advanced calling features, include voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding and call barring, offering greater flexibility and the opportunity to increase productivity by bringing voice, e-mail, instant messaging and conferencing together in one place,” Murphy said.

The research was based on 435 businesses in the UK, of which 14% were not connecting to the internet via a broadband connection.


30th March 2007

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