U.S. spending on unified communications technologies will increase by an average of 10 percent per year, led by spending on hosted IP telephony services, which will almost triple between 2011 and 2016, estimates InfoTrack.

Among U.S. enterprises, defined as firms with 500 or more employees, spending on hosted IPT will grow at an average rate of 27 percent, which is almost two times faster than the average increase among U.S. SMBs (firms with fewer than 500 employees), InfoTrack says.

“In 2011, SMBs represented 46 percent of the U.S. installed base of IPT lines, but accounted for only 30 percent of the spending on UC applications,” InfoTrack says.

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But over the next five years, the growth of SMB spending on UC apps will be more than twice the rate of U.S. enterprises, which represents the mirror image of what we project happening in the hosted IPT sector,” said Ken Dolsky, Senior Program Director for InfoTrack.

As always, one has to keep the size of the installed base in mind when pondering such forecasts. Other researchers, including Parallels, have estimated that small and medium business hosted IP telephony penetration is still relatively small.

The global market for hosted PBX (hosted IP telephony) services averagted between four percent and seven percent in the largest SMB markets, Parallels noted, as recently as late 2011.

Infonetics Research separately has forecast that the global SMB VoIP services market would grow to $76.1 billion in 2015 with total subscribers of 262 million. Keep in mind that the total global telecom services business accounts for about $2 trillion in annual revenue in 2012.

So hosted IP telephony would represent about four percent of global revenues.

In the United States, it has been estimated that around 500,000 SMBs currently use a hosted PBX service, representing an $800 million market. In a U.S. telecom service business of about $336 billion in annual revenue, hosted IP telephony represents about two-tenths of one percent of total industry revenue.

However, Parallels estimates that the majority of the current in-house PBX systems will migrate to hosted mechanisms over time, representing $3.9 billion potential market for hosted PBX.

US Hosted PBX Market – Source: Parallels SMB Cloud Insights Report, 2011

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