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"In the face of this constant change, Tippit helps thousands of real phone system buyers make better decisions every day.
We also help buyers assess vendors who can solve their specific business problems. Tippit's ability to track and measure the Telephony buyer's research, evaluation and purchase habits provides a fascinating look into the Telephony market."
Source : Tippit
IP Phone Buyer´s Guide
IP Phone system is also known as :
Hybrid IP PBX,
IP PBX Systems,
IP Phone Service,
IP Phones System,
PBX Telephone Systems,
Voip Telephone Systems,
Wireless Voip Phone.
Learn what IP phone systems are on the market and understand what
issues you should consider before choosing the right one for your
- Executive Summary
- IP Phones Overview
- Market Overview
- The Benefits of IP Phones
- Basic Features
Yesterday's charcoal-grey business phones are fast being displaced by
touch-screen, display-outfitted IP units that do everything from facilitate
Web conferences to deliver up-to-the-minute stock quotes.
But bells and whistles aren't the only reason companies are turning to IP
phones. Because they rely on private networks and the Internet instead
of traditional phone lines to exchange voice and data traffic, IP phones
can deliver enormous cost savings and practically eliminate long distance
charges. The list of benefits doesn't end there - hassle-free
installation, centralized call management, scalability, hot desking and
easy integration with business applications are all factors prompting
companies to swap their POTS (plain old telephone service) for an IP
PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch eXchange) system.
The bottom line with IP phones is that they offer businesses a user friendly
and easy-to-manage alternative to traditional phone systems.
Such innovation, however, comes at a price; a single IP phone can range
from $150 to $700 or more, a hefty price tag for a company with limited
funds or a sizeable work force.
This buyer's guide examines the IP phone market and offers details on
what to look for, how to buy, what you can expect to pay and how to get
the most out of your investment.
IP Phones Overview
The average American pet dog is likely to outlive your company's
traditional telephone system. In fact, analysts estimate that the
average life expectancy of a legacy phone system is just seven (human)
years. There will come a time, probably sooner rather than later, when
every business will have to consider trading in its age-old desktop
phones for IP equivalents.
Hybrid IP PBX vs. Pure IP
The key to selecting an appropriate IP phone hinges on developing a
proper telephony migration strategy. There are two primary approaches
for businesses: a complete overhaul or a converged deployment. For
a company looking to abandon its legacy phone system altogether, a
complete overhaul of its telephone system makes the most sense, both
technically and financially. This start-from-scratch approach entails
implementing a pure IP solution, along with dedicated IP phones, from
a single vendor. The result is a suite of feature-rich, easy-to-implement
voice services that can easily be integrated with both IT applications
and a unified communications plan.
But not all companies are willing to scuttle their existing investment
in analog or digital phones for the sake of pure IP units. For example,
companies with scarce IT resources and a limited need for innovative
communication solutions may find it more cost-effective to ease into an
IP PBX with a hybrid model. Many of today's legacy PBX vendors offer
a migration path that involves adding IP capabilities while leveraging
current telephony assets. With this hybrid approach, businesses can
connect to and between nearly any other form of telephony " from
digital to POTS " thereby both extending the life of its legacy system
and reaping the benefits of IP.
IP Phone Types
The next step is deciding what IP phone best suits your business needs.
Today's IP phones range from high-priced, videoconference-enabled
devices to low-end, standard machines.
Popular IP phone types include:
Desktop: Sized and styled for the office place, today's desktop
IP phones typically include single-line access, a limited number
of interactive soft keys, and a two-line LCD screen with browsing
and instant-messaging capabilities. High-end IP phones are also
known to feature a backlit, high-resolution, color touch screen for
easy access to communications information, XML applications and
Wireless: For businesses boasting an existing 802.11 network,
a wireless IP phone is an excellent choice. These increasingly
popular devices allow voice and data support on the same wireless
Conferencing: IP conferencing phones offer instant, face-to-face
communication between two or more participants. Ideally suited for
conference rooms of small-to-medium size, these specialty phones
incorporate a camera, LCD screen, speaker, keypad and handset in
a single unit.
Proprietary vs. Open Phones
Just because you've enlisted a VoIP provider doesn't mean you have
to turn to that same vendor for an IP phone. Selecting an IP phone
manufacturer is a crucial step, and there are plenty of third-party,
standards-based phones to choose from. These low-cost, no-frills
handsets include upwards of 16 standard calling features and can be
configured to work with the majority of today's IP PBX systems. The
downside is that third-party IP phone purchasers shouldn't expect the
same high-tech bells and whistles provided by legacy vendors such as
Cisco and Nortel.
Other factors to consider when purchasing an IP phone include
customer-support availability, as well as a manufacturer's commitment
to service levels.
These days, there's no shortage of vendors peddling IP phones, and it's
no wonder. According to Juniper Research, the market for IP PBXs will
reach over $1.6 billion this year, and IP phone sales associated with IP
Centrex/hosted system sales will top nearly 16 million units in 2010.
Currently, vendors such as Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Polycom, Siemens AG
and ShoreTel are working hard to gobble a sizable slice of the IP phone
pie. Recently, research firm In-Stat cited Cisco as a market leader for the
IP phone industry, taking 43 percent of the market share with Avaya
trailing at 12 percent. All this could change soon as the market becomes
increasingly flooded with low-end, inexpensive, third-party phones
from small-scale competitors.
Hoping to distinguish themselves from the pack, many vendors are
upping the ante by adding special features to their IP phone offerings.
Nortel's IP Phone 2007, for example, includes a 5.7-inch viewable color
touch screen, bringing multimedia presentation support to the desktop
device. Cisco's Unified IP Phone 7985G, a personal desktop videophone
that makes instant, face-to-face communications a reality. And then
there's the new Polycom HDX 4000 series which sports multiple
HD features, including HD voice, HD video and HD content-sharing
But it's the threat of Microsoft becoming a dominant IP telephony
player that is truly raising eyebrows among top vendors. Through its
Office Communications Server 2007, a SIP-based communications
platform, the Redmond giant plans to provide presence-based VoIP
call management, audio, video and Web conferencing, and instant
messaging " all working in conjunction with existing software and
applications. The rollout also includes a unified messaging server called
Exchange Server 2007, which integrates email, voice mail and faxing.
What's more, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 will serve as a
presence-based, enterprise VoIP softphone, while Microsoft Office
Live Meeting will provide conferencing services. So far, at least nine
manufacturers have unveiled 15 IP telephones that will be compatible
with Office Communications Server 2007, including LG-Nortel, NEC and
As a result of Microsoft's proposed plans, some industry experts
recommend that companies hold of before tackling a full-scale IP PBX
implementation. But not everyone is convinced that Microsoft's entry
into an already crowded space will bring about massive changes. Says
Henry Dewing, a Forrester Research analyst, "[Microsoft's unveiling of
its Communications Server 2007] will be a lash in the market. It'll be
something interesting, but I don't see markets changing in the long
The Benefits of IP Phones
Whether you've purchased a high-end video conferencing IP device or
a bargain-basement, no-frills unit, all IP phones offer advantages above
and beyond their traditional counterparts.
An IP phone's primary perks include:
Easy Configuration and Administration: Forget about
time consuming reconfigurations and rewiring activities. Rather, an IP
phone can be moved from one site to the next simply by plugging
it into the nearest Ethernet port.
Enhanced Productivity: Businesses can easily integrate IP phones
with key applications such as customer-relationship-management
and contact-management tools. For example, users can place calls
directly from Microsoft Outlook or instantly access a price list the
moment a particular client calls.
Greater Collaboration: By integrating videoconferencing into
an IP telephony solution, companies can perform feats such as
holding a conference call among worldwide offices or working
jointly on development projects using Web-based collaboration
When selecting an IP phone, there are a number of standard features
buyers have simply come to expect. While these most basic functions
don't exactly push the envelope on technical innovation, they do
promise to boost productivity and improve customer service.
Standard features include:
Caller ID: Displays incoming call information, such as a name or a
phone number, on your phone screen.
Call Waiting: Provides an auditory alert of an incoming call while
on another call.
Call Transfer: Offers the ability to transfer calls between
extensions without going back to a central switchboard.
Call Parking: Temporarily stores a call in a waiting area, then picks
up the call using another phone.
Softkeys: Programmable buttons allow for easy feature and
application access that perform whatever function is shown near it
on a touch-screen display.
User Directory: Provides an address book of personal contacts
that you can access directly on your phone.
Speed Dialing: Allows you to place a call with the press of a
button rather than dialing a number manually.
When it comes to IP phones, talk isn't always cheap. In fact, handsets
make up between 40 and 45 percent of the cost of an IP telephony
installation. That might help explain why only 40 percent of IP PBX seats
are configured with IP phones, according to In-Stat.
"The cost of an IP phone is a major barrier to upgrades," says Keith Nissen,
an In-Stat analyst. "IP phones will typically cost anywhere from $300 to
$500 each. It is the majority of the investment in a new PBX system."
As the price of production has dropped, so has the cost of IP phones
" by approximately 50 percent, according to industry analysts. Even
still, purchasing managers have their work cut out for them. After all,
presenting senior-level decision-makers with a strong argument for
investing in IP phones involves pointing out soft dollar benefits such
as productivity gains and enhanced customer satisfaction ' intangible
parameters for measuring ROI (return on investment).
What's worse is that many purchasers of IP phones simply aren't getting
the most bang for their buck. Failing to evangelize the use of feature rich
IP phones among employees and selecting IP phones with features
that extend beyond a company's real needs are both factors that result
in wasted money.
Consider this: Gartner estimates that businesses worldwide will buy
more than 150 million IP phones over the next five years. However, for
75 percent of those purchases, companies will spend at least $150 more
than they need to as they focus on purchasing IP screen phones.
In the end, it's up to businesses to carefully assess what they hope to
accomplish with an IP-based phone system and what they're willing to
invest in the training of their employees.
IP Phones Checklist
What to ask before you buy.
- Are you better of migrating to a hybrid IP PBX or a pure IP
- What features are you looking for in an IP phone?
- How much time and money are you willing to invest in the
training of your employees on IP telephony?
- How many employees will actually benefit from an IP phone in
terms of increased productivity?
- Do you have the IT resources needed to manage an IP
- Will you require videoconferencing capabilities in your IP
- Do you have an existing 802.11 network that can
accommodate wireless IP phones?
- Does your budget allow for a proprietary IP phone or a low-cost,
- What basic features do you expect from an IP phone?
- What kind of customer support does your IP phone
- What is the fine print in an IP phone manufacturer's service
Given the limited life span of a traditional telephone system, the
majority of today's businesses will, at some point, have to seriously
consider switching to an IP-based model. Forget about being wowed by
standard features such as call waiting and call transfer. The latest crop
of IP phones allows users to perform feats such as holding PowerPoint
presentations with Zurich-based colleagues and freely hot plugging
phones from one site to the next.
But there's a price to be paid for such innovation. IP phones can cost
upwards of $700 a set. Many businesses are hard-pressed to measure
their cost benefits in terms other than productivity gains and enhanced
customer service " hardly convincing metrics for bottom-line-obsessed
For those companies that take the IP plunge, the perks can be
outstanding: eliminated phone wiring, easy installation, centralized
management, scalability, hot desking, enhanced usability and enormous
call cost reduction. The secret to success, however, involves selecting
an IP phone that best suits your business needs. Carefully examine
feature lists and select a vendor that understands your industry's
communication requirements. Once you've purchased your IP phones,
be sure that employees are making the most of all those innovative
For a detailed comparison of IP Phones, see the VoIP-News IP Phone