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Internet Telephony – Are We There Yet?

by Kim James •
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Internet telephony, also known as Voice Over IP or VOIP, is surging, with a recent report suggesting that 40% of US households with a high speed internet connection will be using internet telephony by 2010. Similarly, an Australian report has estimated that the number of consumers and small businesses using internet telephony will increase this year from 411,000 to 900,000. Cost savings are obviously the big attraction for users – and for government agencies at all levels which have begun adopting VOIP.

Last year, DVA rolled out more than 3,200 IP phones as part of a major VOIP upgrade with IBM. Other Federal government agencies with internet telephony systems include the Australian Federal Police, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Bureau of Meteorology, as indicated by contracts for VOIP systems or components over the last 12 months. In addition, the Australian Taxation Office reported a contract for an internet telephony pilot with EDS in October last year (although the contract value was only $10k).

Currently there are open tenders, both closing on the 8th May 2006, for:

  • A modern IP telephony system with 950 handsets with DCITA.
  • VOIP monitoring software, able to integrate with their current Cisco Call Manager solution, with ABS .

In addition, ComSuper and AusAid have listed VOIP software/hardware opportunities which are yet to go to the market, in their 2005/06 procurement plans.

State and local government agencies are also going VOIP. Last year the Queensland Department of Emergency Services began upgrading its network with a view to supporting internet telephony, while agencies as diverse as the Kyabram & District Health Services and the Adelaide City Council have recently tendered for an IP telephony system and internet services able to support internet telephony respectively. In March, the Northern Territory government completed a pilot for VOIP at the Department of Corporate and Information Services with Telstra, preliminary to a planned whole-of-government rollout to 12,000 staff. InTact in the ACT is also undertaking a whole-of-government rollout to 15,000 extensions.

If we’re not there yet with internet telephony, we’re getting there fast.

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