The corporate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) market will reach $86.2 billion by 2020, growth that corresponds to an impressive 9.0% CAGR. The market has doubled its size in only eight years, according to statistics culled by Future Market Insights.
Over the past five years, enterprise level VoIP solutions have been a growing investment for businesses across many industries. The increase in spending coincided with two key innovations in the technology – huge improvements in ISP connection reliability and a more stable network infrastructure. This generation of VoIP has virtually solved the problem of connectivity and system reliability. There is one more big problem to take care of in terms of VoIP service delivery: Optimizing the LAN and WAN customer network systems at the other end of the data stream.
This optimization is the point upon which most VoIP service providers differentiate their services. The unique selling points and value propositions from most savvy vendors now include a detailed explanation of the benefits that come at the level of the customer network.
The story of business VoIP market growth can be taken through the perspective of the marketer/salesman. The features that move sales are the ones that will drive future innovation, because producers will move resources into the spaces that are driving interest in the market.
So from that perspective, what is actually driving the VoIP market?
What is Really Moving the VoIP Industry Forward?
Technology is moving at a faster and faster pace, and increased usage of cutting edge tech is happening over various networks. 2019 will likely be the year that 5G finally makes its way into the mainstream. With it will come a new selection of AI, machine learning, VR/AR, the IoT, and many other services and platforms that will rely on the much improved latency and higher bandwidth of the 5G spectrum.
There will be many services that are demanded in higher volumes from the consumer and commercial markets.
Business VoIP Services
Residential VoIP services are growing, but at a slower rate than business services. Many companies aiming their services at residential areas are now offering “triple play packages” which substantially reduce the revenue streams for VoIP in many parts of the world. In some of the more competitive markets, VoIP services are included for free in these packages.
The real movement in the market is for business services. Corporate entities require a higher level of service and a consistently high performance metrics. VoIP providers can justify charging for these services, especially at the beginning of the 5G rollout. (“There will only be a few companies on this level of service, and if you want to be one of them, then you will need to pay the premium!”)
Currently, there are approximately 688 competitors in the VoIP provider space. They provide services for around 224 million residential subscribers around the world, according to statistics culled in 2014. The rate of increase has been around 5% per year. Visiongain estimated the number of users in the mobile VoIP space at around 180 million.
However, the business VoIP space was led by the managed IP PBX service sector. By revenues, just under 50% of the total market share for business VoIP is held in this sector. International long distance calls were the number one service used by business VoIP subscribers, and this number accounted for over 50% of revenues in the market.
Business VoIP in North America is also being bolstered by competition from the Asia Pacific. As both sides build up their connectivity through increased quality and speed in communications, we can expect an escalation of services and subscriptions in order to compete. The proliferation of two separate and distinct 5G networks in the United States and China will lead the charge, just as it leads into our next section of which aspects of VoIP will move the market forward.
VoIP Over 5G
As stated above, the proliferation of 5G gives an entirely new range to VoIP tech. Although 4G LTE is adequate for most of today’s communications, the bandwidth is physically running low. People in large municipalities are already experiencing slowdown and high latency because of the lack of resources along the 4G LTE pipeline. 5G not only brings a new level of resources, it also brings a new volume of those resources to the general public that will replenish the space in which digital communications has to work.
Ultra high definition (UHD) videos and virtual reality (VR) eat up bandwidth on the 4G LTE spectrum too quickly in order to be used at any sort of scale. Bleeding edge consumers may have a device or two that can play this stuff with buffering and latency, but no one was thinking of using these services on a professional level until 5G came out.
This is even more the case as more companies use solutions that are based around the cloud. The 4G LTE spectrum is getting quite crowded as more businesses jump on the bandwagon. Eventually, 4G will become completely full – make no mistake about it. Experts do not know exactly when, but it is going to happen.
VoIP communications are based around multimedia. Business VoIP is based around the latest communications. In a few years, businesses will be centered around UHD, VR/AR functionality, multinode meetings and many other things that only 5G has the capacity to underwrite.
Video communications will proliferate and will probably become the largest form of business communication worldwide. Video has already outpaced text as the number one form of overall online content, so the trend in the business world will naturally follow.
So how will 5G improve VoIP exactly?
- Increased upload speed – 5G updates your communications network into the highly efficient UDP protocol that reduces or eliminates the jitters, packet losses and disconnections of busy 4G LTE services. 5G can max out at an upload speed of 10 Gbps, giving companies of all sizes the ability to make high quality uninterrupted calls from around the world.
- Improved Internet coverage – Another technology that 5G brings to the forefront is in the transmission hardware. 4G moves through huge cell towers that have incredible range but leave blind spots in their wake. 5G signals move through many smaller network cells. Basically, 5G is a thicker spider web with no blind spots and the ability to cover the same amount of total area.
- UHDVR – You may already have a 4K TV, but you probably do not have a large amount of content for it. The same goes for VR gear. When 5G hits, not only will you have a huge amount of content to use your gear with, but you can also combine the UHD and VR technologies. The result is that you can feel as though remote callers are actually in the same room with you.
- Low latency – Businesses tend to have a large number of devices on the same network at the same time. With 5G, you will not have to turn any of them off in order to get a better call, even at peak times.
VoIP and the IoT
The current generation of VoIP and IoT have the ability to talk to each other. Smart offices using the IoT as the catalyst and the megaphone of the VoIP are creating more convenient, efficient workspaces that will soon become the norm for competitive businesses.
The number of smart objects that are connected to the Internet is about to explode. You will be able to control virtually anything in your office space from a digital device, and 5G is the backdrop that will make this happen. Once the IoT becomes an unassailable part of the common life, the so called “smart VoIP” system is the inevitable next step.
IP serves as the common protocol for both VoIP and the IoT. As such, VoIP systems have the ability to converge directly into IoT gateways for communications efforts over the Internet as well as telephony systems. This system allows a user to access the gateway and control IoT devices from a remote location through the networks.
There have been competing systems that looked to accomplish the same goal of increasing connectivity between devices in the work environment. Bluetooth automation systems and ZigBee automation systems are perhaps the most prevalent two examples. The smart VoIP system has the ability to provide services that are beyond these systems. For instance, using smart VoIP, blind people are currently able to obtain information about their control devices remotely from a telephone keypad. This kind of functionality can certainly be expanded into the world of business for many different purposes. The technology is far from optimized.
VoIP phones also have the ability currently to accept SIP notifications from a smart system. This can be used to drive data from a motion sensor to notify a remote user on a VoIP phone when motion occurs in an office space. An XML feature can also manage a VoIP phone screen. Currently, this functionality allows a user to remotely change the temperature in a room or turn on the lights, as well as perform many other common functions.
The aspect of VoIP here that will drive the market is to serve as endpoints that can serve as smart solutions to share information, work proactively together and serve a wide spectrum of purposes. There will be a push towards a development of more smart endpoints that are even more dynamic. As these endpoints become even smarter over time, they will expand their functionality and allow service providers to take even more from the networks they already have. They will also be able to offer their clients more services without the need for infrastructure change or building out new networks.
VoIP endpoints can serve as control access points and security for large facilities, using IP door access systems and security cameras. These platforms can not only monitor a workspace remotely, but also set to notify or call IP phones automatically when a breach happens. As VoIP platforms merge with top mobile platforms, this functionality will become even more prevalent.
VoIP endpoints are also expanding the variety of applications and messaging options that can communicate with other digital devices. Many IP phones now have SMS texting and some platforms are now compatible with messaging platforms. Slack, Skype and Google Hangouts are now available from IP phones, for example.
Calendar systems, property management systems and CRM platforms are other important functions that can be easily synced with a VoIP network. You can now schedule a video conference through your UC UI while automatically adding the event to your selected calendar program. PMS VoIP can use any IP phone as a data throughput for real time management. The same goes for CRM – users can feed data into the system through real time data from callers.
The functionalities above will be driving the VoIP market forward for the next few years. What will be the driving force after this? We must wait and see how these new conveniences drive business. We will not have to wait too long, because the speed of technological advancement is accelerating. This market is certainly one to look at whether you are an investor, a consumer or a business person.
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