Corporate IP telephony vendors are offerings businesses incentives and even free products to corporate customers to kick start the market in Europe.
The suppliers claim such incentives are necessary to encourage companies to use a technology that is still not yet established, even though they admit that concerns over quality and standards are hampering mass adoption.
Motorola, for one, has pledged to install a packet voice telephony service for internal calls, using IP or frame relay, within an hour at customer sites. If the service does not meet its Voice Vantage Pledge, the firm says customers can keep the Infinity Access Vanguard 320 equipment for free.
Siemens, on the other hand, has put a fully functional version of its voice telephony over a Lan system on a CD Rom and is allowing interested companies to install and use the system free for 45 days. The system enables enterprises to use one IP network for all its voice, data and video applications.
Both say they are trying to kick start the voice over IP and voice over frame relay markets, but deny that the latest gimmicks indicate any anxiety over slow equipment sales.
Neil Fairbrother, marketing manager at Motorola's Internet and networking group, said: "We're not getting desperate. The concept of packet voice needs an exercise in market push in the same way selling Sony Walkmans was a market push. People aren't necessarily asking for packet voice, but what people are asking for is cheaper and more flexible networks."
European enterprises are very interested in the cost saving potential of voice over IP, but there are still issues that need to be flushed out, namely quality of service, he continued.
"A corporate wouldn't be best advised to use voice over IP exclusively. Should IP not prove satisfactory, then the Motorola product will automatically switch packets to frame relay and the caller won't even notice. Until quality of service standards are in place then I expect the user community, particularly the business community, is not going to embrace voice over IP in a wide environment. But it's coming," he added.
Phil Simmonds, marketing manager at Siemens' data networking unit, however, believes that voice over IP also offers benefits such as better use of resources and support staff.
"We believe this hands on approach is the best way for IT executives and professionals to evaluate the benefits of this technology for themselves," he said.
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