The worldwide market for next-generation voice products will leap 14 per cent next year reaching a value of $1.4bn, according to Infonetics Research.
But the predicted rise falls short of the 2001 bonanza in the market which saw global revenues for next-generation voice hardware and software hit $1.23bn, a 463 per cent jump over 2000 revenues.
Infonetics said that the demand for products such as voice over broadband gateways, broadband loop carriers, voice/data switches, and voice over application servers is healthy considering the tough economic climate.
Infonetics analyst Kevin Mitchell said: "The next-generation voice market is going to fare well in lean economic times because, even though service providers will continue to cut overall capital expenditure through 2002, they're planning to increase spending on next-generation voice products."
He added that service providers want next-generation voice products because they will cut operational costs.
"Next-generation voice is definitely the future of telephony but the big growth is still to come," explained Mitchell. "Once these emerging products mature, which should begin happening in mid-2003, the market will start ramping up."
Infonetics cited the RAC VoIP gateway as an example of an established VoIP product that represents "a very significant 62 per cent of the next-generation voice market in 2001. But other next-generation voice products are still emerging."
Paul Cunningham, marketing director at networking distributor Comstor, said: "In the boom times we were selling a lot of IP switch infrastructure which was voice enabled, but whether it was being used for telephony I don't know.
"Now we are selling the overlaying switch infrastructure to justify its existence. We are at the very early stages for IP telephony development. Resellers from the voice market can't afford to miss out on this wave."
He maintained that there are also big opportunities for data oriented resellers with a background in IP architecture.
"They are also realising that voice is the next logical application to plug in to the infrastructure," said Cunningham. "But they have to get to grips with absolute reliability. The minute people get no dial tone on a phone, it's a disaster."
Robin Newbury, managing director at network reseller CSN, said: "Network resellers should be prepared for network telephony.
"Local area networks and telephone systems are coming closer and closer everyday and customers are taking a long-term view about their network design and infrastructure.
"Network resellers must train themselves about the arriving technology. If the only thing they can do is data cabling, they will be pushed out of business."
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