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BT spreads VoIP love across Europe

PBXs are so last season

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CeBIT BT is rolling out managed VoIP services to businesses across Europe: Spain and Ireland first, later in Germany and the Netherlands.

The company is kicking off with two offerings: the top-of-the-range multimedia MM VoIP, aimed squarely at the more technophiliac CIOs; and the slightly less intimidating VoIP Port. The latter lets companies keep their old PBX systems a little bit longer, but companies should be under no illusions about the life of their infrastructure, John Blake, BT’s head of IP at Global Services, says.

“Companies really extended the life of their PBXs when they upgraded everything getting ready for the millennium date change. Now many of them are 10 or 12 yeas old, and the maintenance costs are going up.”

He argues that the switch to VoIP is inevitable: “Once companies realise they need to upgrade their telephony system, the value proposition of VoIP is too good to ignore. Past a certain threshold of adoption, it will no longer be cost effective to support PBX technology.”

VoIP is a big theme at CeBIT this year, with plenty of deployments and availability of technology or of supporting peripherals. BT’s announcement is slightly different in that it actually has a customer using the technology in the UK.

Abbey, the retail bank, outsourced the whole telecoms thing to BT last year in a deal worth £125m over five years. Now the company routes 80,000 calls a day over IP infrastructure.

BT is rubbing its hands with glee at the prospects of VoIP for business. According to Blake, the convergence between voice and data networks gives BT a great opportunity to consolidate its position as a services provider, as well as paving the way for upgrades. And if he can persuade even half of his sales leads to go from a 25kbit voice call to a full multimedia package with video streaming at 384kbit/s, he will be a happy man. ®

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