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Businesses Bullish On VoIP, But Consumers Remain Leery: Survey

Voice over IP (VoIP) is gaining a foothold in U.S. businesses, even though consumers are still hesitant to commit to the technology, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive.

In its just-published "2005 Telecommunications Report," Harris Interactive found that 87% of business decision-makers are familiar with VoIP and, of that number, 12% currently use it in their organizations. In contrast, VoIP lacks mindshare among consumers. The survey found that only 35% of consumers as a whole are aware of the technology and only three percent of them currently use it.

On the whole, businesses are attracted to VoIP primarily by the expected cost savings the technology can provide. According to the Harris Interactive survey, some 72% of businesses that are likely to deploy VoIP this year expect telecom savings of between 11% and 40%. Customer satisfaction is high; some 88% of businesses using VoIP are either somewhat or very satisfied with their service and, of those consumers using the technology, 40% expressed satisfaction.

Nevertheless, VoIP adopting still faces some significant hurdles to widespread consumer adoption. Some 47% of the consumers surveyed said that they simply don't know enough about the technology to make a choice, while 22% perceive the technology as too complicated to install and use and the same number perceive it as an unproven technology. Consequently, 34% will wait until VoIP becomes more mainstream. A quarter of consumers said that they just don't think the potential cost savings are worth the effort.

Moreover, Harris Interactive found that VoIP suffers from a number of perceived shortcomings compared to traditional telephony. Some 52% of consumers expressed concern that the technology would not support 911 dialing and 60% were worried about security and privacy.

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