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VoIP Gets The Call

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services have moved into the mainstream, with major companies like AT&T and startups like Vonage offering VoIP services directly to consumers. And enterprises increasingly recognize that VoIP can save them significant amounts of money on communications costs, as well as delivering new services using converged voice and data networks.

All this is good news for companies that sell VoIP-related products. Service providers need some way to deliver VoIP to the masses and to enterprises, so we're now seeing a slew of new products and services to help them do it.

The market for doing this is big, and getting bigger every day. A recent IDC forecast says that worldwide sales of IP-telephony equipment will increase by 48 percent in 2004 and reach $4.9 billion in sales by the end of the year. Sales will grow by more than 50% in 2005 and 2006, and will reach $15.1 billion in 2007, says the report.

Gartner Dataquest estimates that businesses spent $2.0 billion on IP-capable telephone systems in North America alone last year. It adds that enterprise spending for IP-phone systems will reach $4.2 billion in 2007.

To meet this demand, both well-known and lesser-known vendors have been releasing VoIP products for service providers, or preparing to release them.

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