Survey: Small businesses leery of VoIP

Small businesses cite security as a reason for sticking to traditional telephone technology

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees are more suspicious of voice-over-IP security than they are of the traditional phone network and even more suspicious than they are of Wi-Fi, according to an IDC study sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association .

More than 80 percent of 350 respondents to the survey say they trust security offered by vendors of traditional telephone technology, but only half the respondents have the same level of trust in VOIP. When asked about wireless security, 60 percent say they trust it, according to "Selling Converged Communications Solutions to SMBs".

More than one in 10 respondents say their mistrust of VOIP is so great they won't consider deploying it for at least a year. This could be related to the fact that the networks of one-third of those answering the survey suffered an attack in the previous year, making them cautious about possibly increasing network vulnerabilities.

When it comes to their next communications system upgrade, 90 percent of respondents say they will buy or lease all the hardware and software they need for the project. Half say they plan to manage the system, while 40 percent say they will outsource management. Fewer than 10 percent say they will outsource the whole system and its management.

To sway these businesses to adopt VOIP will require convincing them of two things: VOIP is easy to use, and converging voice and data can save money. Those surveyed say the thing they like best about their current communications is ease of use (68 percent), and low cost to operate and maintain (62 percent).

More than two-thirds of those surveyed who have already adopted VOIP say converging voice and data has been worth the expense. And two-thirds of those who have not adopted VOIP say they recognize it has business value, the IDC survey says.

Survey respondents identified themselves with business titles (60 percent) or IT titles (40 percent), and most IT respondents say they are leery of outsourcing any part of their communications. Specifically, two-thirds say they prefer to own, manage and maintain their communications systems, which is a big jump from the results of a similar survey in 2005. Then, only one-third of IT respondents preferred to own, manage and maintain their communications infrastructure.

"IDC believes this year's response is more realistic, given some of the challenges of outsourcing that have come to popular attention over the past year," the study says.

Of all the respondents, 16 percent now run some voice traffic on their data networks, up from 13 percent in 2005. Seventeen percent have combined voice and data into a single network. The report notes that entirely separate voice and data networks are most common among the smallest businesses.

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