IP Telephony Expected to Revive IT in Korea
--More Secure, Reliable Solutions,
Lower Prices Suggested for Further Market Expansion
Industrial experts said that IP telephony, with its limitless growth potential, can act as a driver to lead the domestic network industry and, in a broader perspective, the IT industry, to a second heyday. Nevertheless, the expectation for further market expansion is premature due to an unclear economic landscape and insufficient killer applications, the experts pointed out, adding that overheated competition among numerous domestic computer telephony integration and network integration companies totally reliant on large vendors' solutions is also worrisome.
IP Phone Price Reduction Needed
Contact centers was the leading application for IP telephony last year. IP telephony owed much of its growth last year to life insurers including Samsung Life Insurance, with 1,200 seats, Kyobo Life Insurance, with 800 seats, Kumho Life, and Educar Life Insurance. The financial company Lotte Card was also a big customer.
With data and voice integration, the repair and maintenance of IP contact centers, dubbed as the most efficient killer application for IP telephony, is easy. Due to numerous advantages such as integration of dispersed contact centers, road balancing and integrated management of voice, e-mail and facsimiles on the Web, IP contact centers were touted greatly by the insurance and financial industries and other large companies operating their own call centers.
But there is a long way to go for IP contact centers to further expand to ordinary companies, experts said. That is because many companies built IP telephony-based call centers, but only as a change of system. Only by facilitating IP phones could they fully enjoy the merits of the IP telephony environment, they added. But since IP phone prices are relatively high, most companies cannot afford it. As domestic makers plan to launch new IP phones one after another, and since foreign vendors are scheduled to put hangeulized IP phones and lower-priced models on the market, prices are expected to drop sooner or later, the experts said.
The experts also pointed out that more attention should be paid to security matters. Developing companies should consider adopting operating systems such as Linux and Unix which are relatively free from computer viruses. And development of vaccine programs exclusively for IP phones is urgent. In addition to existing security schemes applicable for network systems such as fire walls, IDS, VPN, other basic security solutions for IP telephony should be developed. They added speech quality is another area of concern.
Industry Cooperation Suggested for Growth
The domestic IP telephony market will be a locomotive to inject dynamism into the entire IT market as well as the network market. The domestic IP telephony business, which started in the insurance firms, and expanded to financing, telecommunications and other large companies, is showing signs of expansion to SMBs, brightening prospects for the new business field. Furthermore, KT, DACOM and other major telecommunications carriers are preparing to launch IP telephony as auxiliary services of their VoIP services, and new voice integration services will materialize this year. As telecommunications carriers are trying harder to convert their voice networks to next-generation IP networks (NGN), voice integration technology is expected to prevail widely.
IP telephony will improve productivity of business, and help new applications such as voice messaging systems, conferencing systems and Webcooperation solutions easily link to phone systems. Thus, it will provide businesses an opportunity to sharpen their competitive edge. Especially, the benefit of IP telephony solutions was somewhat verified by companies through trial services last year. If the economy recovers this year, rapid market expansion is expected.
In order for the fledgling IP telephony market to expand further, cooperation among domestic players is more necessary than anything. Companies need to restrain themselves from overheated competition and dumping practices. Despite all these potential problems, industry officials and experts have no doubt for its high growth potential based on last year's performances.
Lee Jung-woong, an Avaya Korea director, said that IP telephony technology was verified in the domestic market through large Web sites last year. Through study of actual introduction cases by Seoul Auto Gallery and Kyobo Life Insurance, the advantages of IP telephony, including cost savings and productivity expansion, can be recognized.
More companies are pursuing the introduction of IP telephony for their nextgeneration communications infrastructure, and market prospects are very bright, he added. In addition, evaluation of new solutions, a key to successful conversion to IP-based network infrastructure, would be made in the market, he said.