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Enterprise VoIP Solutions

Not long ago, Cisco Systems dominated the VoIP market, thanks to its 1998 purchase of Selsius. Legacy providers were thrown off guard initially, but the tide is quickly turning. One Dell'Oro market share report (see chart below) shows Avaya leading Cisco in large IP PBX shipments in the third quarter of 2004, with Nortel Networks a close third. Even more significant, this tally doesn't take into account hybrid systems from Avaya and Nortel that combine TDM (time-division multiplexing) and VoIP ports. There are many smaller players to choose from as well, including Zultys Technologies and Vonexus, which both participated in our review. Although cost is cited in our reader poll as the No. 1 obstacle to VoIP adoption (with the need to upgrade networks a close second), competition shows no signs of cooling, and that's good news for consumers.

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Standard and Deliver

Standards like Ethernet, IP, PoE (Power over Ethernet) and QoS (quality of service) let you plug all components of a VoIP system into any other vendor's data network, which means you can shop around for the best price.

Moreover, the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard makes it feasible to choose different vendors' gateways for access to the PSTN, with SIP trunking between the gateway and the IP PBX. SIP is currently an approved draft standard; some advanced features are still under construction, but many vendors are finding ways to make it work.