Almost seven out of 10 UK businesses will be using VoIP telephony services by 2013, a survey sponsored by Telappliant and conducted by Vanson Bourne has found.

The study of 100 U.K. businesses from a variety of industries found that 41 per cent of respondents already were actively IP telephony, while 25 percent have plans to study or implement VoIP within the next 12 months.

The data also indicated that businesses with a head count of 100 employees to 500 employees are embracing the technology faster than smaller businesses.

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The two primary reasons given for using VoIP telephony were the need “to reduce overall telephony costs for our business” (68 percent), and “to allow staff more flexibility to work from home or from another location” (22 percent).

The survey also revealed three perceived internal barriers to switching over to VoIP services.

What is not immediately clear is how much we can generalize to “all” U.K. businesses. If the survey sample was weighted towards businesses that already have bought IP telephony, the results have one meaning. If the sample was completely randomized and also representative of all U.K. businesses, the results might mean something else.

Nor is it obvious what respondents mean when reporting they “use” VoIP. Businesses can use Skype, but not an IP phone system or a hosted PBX service. They can use IP telephony for the whole business, or only for some users and parts of the business, or some locations but not all.

Perhaps surprisingly, reliability and quality continue to be perceived buyer issues. The main concern with VoIP (presumably by non-adopters) was “poor quality or unreliable service.” About 42 percent of respondents appear to have had that opinion.

About 32 percent of respondents indicated that the “benefits are not fully understood by management team within the business.” About a quarter of respondents also indicated that VoIP required too much effort to deploy or maintain.”

The study found that 50 percent of businesses with a head count of 100 to 500 people are actively using VoIP telephony services, and a quarter of small businesses with a head count of five to 100 are also already using VoIP telephony services. A third of small businesses are also reviewing the possible introduction of VoIP in the next 12 months.

Also, despite the argument by many proponents that IP telephony provides new features, fully 68 percent of businesses using VoIP said that they switched to VoIP to reduce overall telephony costs.

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