After a decade of technological hang-ups and poor connections, voice over IP (VoIP) has finally reached critical mass. It has gone from being the perpetual technology of tomorrow to the must-have technology of today. Everyone, it seems, is jumping on the VoIP train.
But maybe they shouldn't be, just yet.
"It isn't for everyone," says Info-Tech Research analyst Carmi Levy. "Yes, it's promising, but it's not a communications panacea and, like any disruptive technology, there are a while lot of caveats to keep in mind before you jump in."
None of this is to say that VoIP is not the wave of the future. The technology is turning up everywhere, from carrier backbone networks to IP-enabled mobile phones for some very good reasons. In theory, at least, it offers a level of control, flexibility and economy unheard-of in traditional telephony.
"If I was a betting person, I'd put money on VoIP being where voice communications are headed," Levy says. "It's almost a no-brainer. They key issue, though, is one of timing and maturity. The technology, the regulatory environment and a whole lot of other things are still unsettled, and we're not at a point where everything has gelled. So organizations have to ask 'do I jump in, or do I wait to see where it goes?'"