2004 marked a "breakthrough" for voice over IP adoption and 2005 is shaping up to be the best ever year for the converged technology, research published today has revealed.
Infonetics Research's latest study said that service providers are migrating circuit-switched voice networks to packet networks in record numbers.
"Building on the momentum established in 2004, service providers around the world invested in next-gen voice in record numbers in their quest for new services that would differentiate them from the competition and bring in revenue," said Kevin Mitchell, Infonetics Research analyst and lead author of the study.
"Carriers in North America and Asia continue down the modernisation path, and western Europe is awakening.
"We expect 2005 to be much like 2004 for North America, a year when many more major carriers get behind VoIP and begin the long investment cycle and service rollout.
"Service providers invested $1.73bn in next-gen voice equipment worldwide in 2004, and the responses from this study support our projection that this is a start to the lengthy migration to next-gen voice. We expect worldwide spending to grow to $5.8bn by 2008."
Despite the momentum, complete migration from legacy to next-generation infrastructures will take some time; many of the study's respondents predicted that it will take them at least five years.
The top drivers cited by service providers for deploying VoIP were new applications and services, capital expenditures and open/standards-based interfaces.
VoIP was found to be enjoying further penetration, with an average of half of respondents' central offices deploying next-generation voice gear by 2006.
A majority of respondents are already using some packet-switched voice equipment for new voice and IP multimedia services.
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