Within the next two to three years Telkom will no longer be able to control telecommunications pricing in South Africa, and businesses will have real choices among telecommunications service providers.
This is the word from Chris Wortt of handset manufacturer Polycom, speaking at an event hosted by Vox Telecom subsidiary BizCall.
Wortt explains that hosted services, even where they are using Telkom infrastructure, will increasingly be able to negotiate deals enabling them to offer high-quality services at prices that presented serious competition to Telkom.
“All over the world, service pricing is increasingly in the hands of competitors to the incumbent telecom companies,” says Wortt. “Telkom is going to be driven to become more competitive; they’ll have no alternative.”
Wortt adds that South Africa is already one of the top five handset markets in the world in per capita terms and that Polycom, which is betting on open standards-based IP telephony as the technology of the future, is watching local developments with interest.
“In the EU, 36% of organisations now have kind of IP call control and 47% plan to deploy it within the next 12 to 24 months,” says Wortt. “Pure IP PABXs are set to overtake hybrids within two years, and hosted VoIP services are growing in parallel.
Wortt stresses, however, that the VoIP business case should not rest on price.
“Cost reduction is just one element,” he says. “Perhaps more importantly, IP telephony can increase productivity and return on assets as well as making your business more agile and future-proof.
"To realise those benefits takes some significant upfront investment, but the long-term payoffs are well worth it. Having just one, all-pervasive, highly resilient network to deliver all your business communications means you get higher return on your assets and just one supplier to deal with – in other words, just one butt to kick.
“IP telephony means you’re also preparing your business to deliver a much richer communication environment to both employees and customers,” adds Wortt.
“It will ultimately be possible to migrate conversations between different media according to your needs, from simple instant messaging chats to full-fledged video contacts. As the generation that’s grown up on the Internet starts moving into the workplace, they’re going to drive demand for rich media communications.”