SMBs Keen to Adopt VoIP, But Concerns are Holding Back Adoption

Research from Viatel has shown that unless cost, reliability and performance issues are solved, 64% of companies believe that converged services (including VoIP) are likely to remain the domain of the enterprise. Over half of the sample (54%) admitted that they have not yet deployed VoIP – citing their top concerns as unreliable call quality when running VoIP over traditional broadband (69%) and the high price of leased lines which would ensure this reliability (47%). However, 95% of SMBs which have not adopted VoIP are keen to, showing that if these problems could be overcome, converged service usage would skyrocket.

“Traditional ADSL simply cannot provide the necessary performance and stability for business-grade VoIP,” commented Alastair Buck, director of voice at Viatel. “Over half of small businesses feel that they have been held back from using VoIP because services are unreliable when run over ADSL, but the organisations cannot afford to deploy leased lines or WAN Ethernet. SMBs need to realise that there are alternatives available, such as uncontended ADSL services which can provide this stability without breaking the bank.”

Many organisations have also had difficulties running business applications over broadband, with 59% of IT managers in SMBs saying that they have had problems running CRM or ERP over ADSL. The bandwidth of contended (shared) broadband lines can vary significantly depending on the number of users on a line, resulting in remote applications performing badly which may lead to smaller offices being restricted from using a full portfolio of converged services, including VoIP. In fact, almost two thirds (64%) of IT managers believed that for the foreseeable future, converged services would only be affordable for the large enterprise.

Despite their concerns, 46% of SMBs do have a business VoIP system in place, so it is clear that business are already seeing the benefits of adopting converged technologies. In addition, the research found that SMBs are extremely enthusiastic about switching to VoIP, with almost all (95%) of the remaining 54% saying that if quality and reliability problems, as well as the cost issues, were solved, then they would adopt converged services within the next three years. IT managers cited reduced infrastructure, improved scope for mobility and flexibility, as well as cost reductions as the main reason for wanting converged services.

“Given the economic climate, it’s wholly unsurprising that SMBs are keen to adopt converged services,” continued Buck. “SMBs which do switch from using a leased line to an uncontended broadband connection will not only save money on their infrastructure costs, but also make considerable savings using VoIP and other converged services such as videoconferencing. There are services today which offer uncontended lines with high upstream bandwidth, and IT managers need to be looking at these, otherwise converged services will remain a pipe-dream for smaller companies.”

The survey was carried out by Omniboss, a part of Vanson Bourne, and surveyed 200 senior IT decision makers in the UK in companies with between 5 and 250 employees.