• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Features key to IP Centrex adoption

Jul 23, 20032 mins

* Unified messaging and other features necessary for IP Centrex to take off

When we started this mini-series on IP Centrex, we mentioned that Steve’s recent survey of enterprise users found that IP Centrex was at the bottom of the list as a reason for voice over IP deployment. What we didn’t mention is that at the top of the list was unified messaging – and of course, cost savings.

So what’s the poor incumbent local exchange carrier to do? Users expect cheaper service, and they’re not about to deploy IP Centrex just for the sake of saying they have IP Centrex instead of traditional Centrex.

The answer is simple: Carriers must add some value to their IP Centrex offering in the form of unified messaging, collaboration and conferencing features, and be prepared to offer “IP Distributex” – providing a hosted offering that is not tied down to a particular central office. In short, local carriers must keep up with the features and benefits offered by today’s IP PBX if they are to succeed with their Centrex replacement strategy.

One of the reasons we’re so passionate about carrier support for IP Centrex is that we’d like to see smaller enterprises have all the features and benefits offered today to the larger enterprise IP PBX user. We believe the incumbent carrier is in a great position to serve the small and lower-end midsize enterprise.

Larger enterprise customers are turning to systems integrators to deploy a hosted VoIP architecture, since they want to outsource the whole project. According to Jay Brandstadter and Gary Audin at Delphi, business is booming with VoIP integration and deployment projects from competitive carriers and large enterprises. Delphi is an independent consulting and training firm.

Who will win the business of hosted PBXs for small enterprise companies? We’re not sure if it will be systems integrators, cable service providers, competitive carriers, long distance companies or incumbent local exchange carriers. But what we are sure of is that the industry is in the second inning of a nine-inning game, and the incumbent local carriers haven’t found their way to the ballpark yet.