Transforming Network Infrastructure Industry News

[August 29, 2005]

P2P VoIP Kills The PBX

By RICH TEHRANI
TMCnet Technology Analysis Columnist

P2P VoIP phones may be the death of PBX companies if they aren't careful.

Based on a few conversations I have had in the market, you can expect to see a number of computer makers getting into the VoIP space by 2006. The smaller PBX players may be the casualties. Here is the scoop. The computer makers will soon start selling phones with p2p software embedded inside. The idea is that these phones will not need a central PBX -- you just plug them into your network and they auto-recognize each other and form a network.

Services can be added to the phones for a fee and the advantage here is that you don't need to spend all your money on the phone right away. You just unlock the features as you need them.

These will be full featured phones including directory based dialing, voicemail, conferencing and virtually everything you get in a digital telephone today.

Once this happens, the small PBX players will have fierce competition. Customers will be able to pay as they grow as opposed to the typical way of buying a PBX and installing it with more capacity than you need at the moment.

This is a win/win scenario for customers and computer companies.

The question is how will smaller PBX players compete? They too will have to sell p2p based phone solutions. Is there an inherent advantage to buying a phone system from a phone company over a computer company? I am not sure. If there is, the phone companies better find it soon.

Some computer companies have started selling music players, video projectors, printers and networking switches with their name on the box. Customers buy these products like they are going out of style. Will phone systems be different?

I don't think so and it is for this reason that phone system vendors focusing on the SMB market need to wake up. Not tomorrow but today. Start typing your business plan on how you will combat this threat. One thing is for sure... VoIP is really enabling new business models in business communications and p2p based VoIP phones are just one of the ways VoIP is unraveling the fabric of the traditional PBX vendor/interconnect channel

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