• United States

Enterprises swap carriers, hedge on VoIP

Apr 08, 20042 mins

* Do-it-yourself networking is alive and well

A recent study by the Yankee Group indicates that the WAN is in a free-for-all migratory phase. The researcher recently surveyed about 240 enterprises regarding their telecommunications strategies and plans.

According to the results, interexchange carriers (IXC) are being usurped not only by the former RBOCs and competitive local-exchange carriers (CLEC), but also by companies you don’t typically associate with being your WAN provider. Among them: networking equipment giant Cisco and systems integrators EDS and IBM.

For example, while 32% of respondents named AT&T as “the company that is your current primary provider of voice and data telecommunications and network services,” Cisco, MCI and SBC each received 10% of the votes, edged out only by Verizon (11%). The systems integrators got 3% of the vote, which wasn’t too far behind Sprint’s 5%.

Of the nation’s largest providers, it was the IXCs that lost more business than they won in 2003. Verizon’s wins and losses balanced each other out, while BellSouth, SBC, and Qwest won more new business than they lost. Thirty-eight percent of the enterprises surveyed by Yankee said they changed providers in 2003.

Another threat to carrier business appears to be the enterprise itself. At least 75% of respondents handle the following tasks in-house: storage, intrusion detection, firewalls, e-mail, antivirus management, and VPN.

Interestingly, the Yankee study concluded that most enterprises use the services of multiple carriers-on average, 4.4.  Education and government institutions tend to use fewer providers, while retail leads the pack with 5.4 carriers, on average. This makes sense, given that education and government offices are more often confined to a locale or region, while retail often has the largest number of broadly distributed locations, making it more difficult to get consistent services from a single provider everywhere.

Other interesting tidbits:

* The top three enterprise networking projects budgeted for 2004 are convergence, WAN expansion and upgrades, and wireless network deployments.

* Twenty-four percent of enterprises surveyed have deployed IP telephony in at least one location, though only 3% have deployed it enterprise-wide. The top obstacles are uncertainty about cost advantages and concerns about high equipment costs and voice quality.