Organisations expanding uses for IP networks, survey shows

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Australian organisations are finding more and more uses for Internet Protocol [IP] Networks as technologies and business practices change, according to a recent survey conducted by Optus.

The survey polled 229 government and corporate organisations across Australia.

According to the survey, wireless broadband is becoming increasingly popular. Although only 28 percent of enterprises currently use wireless, Optus predicts that this figure will grow to 40 percent in the coming 12 months.

This is being caused by the growing influence of mobile networks such as 3G, and the mobile devices which can utilise these networks.

But Phil Harpur, Senior Analyst at Paul Budde Communications, says that wireless broadband is still an unattractive prospect for many organisations.

"Yes, it is true that wireless broadband is becoming increasingly popular but access prices, although coming down, are still significantly more expensive than their fixed-line counterpart plans," he says.

"In particular the data caps are making these broadband services less attractive."

According to the survey, the recent trend towards providing employees with a flexible work environment has led organisations to make changes to their networks to accommodate.

A massive 84 percent of enterprises now provide employees access to the corporate network from home via broadband.

This is a trend Harpur expects to see continue. "there remains a negative attitude to [allowing] working from home via remote access, especially amongst the larger organisations in Australia," he says.

"[But] over the next five to 10 years this trend will increase dramatically, as corporates tap into big savings, and there is more emphasis on environmental issues."

The survey reveals that more and more organisations are also incorporating Voice over IP [VoIP] telephony. The survey found that 65 percent of enterprises are trialling or have deployed VoIP. And only 16 percent have no plans to converge their voice and data networks in the future.

Optus believes that VoIP as a driver for improving productivity will increase further in the future as more and more enterprises adopt Unified Communications principles.

But Harpur says that while business is showing increasing interest in adopting VOIP, traditional PSTN providers are a long way from being threatened.

"Interest in VoIP in the business arena is clearly increasing, but is still a long way off being able to truly challenge traditional PSTN voice access," he says.

The growing influence of IP-based networks is coming at a cost. Almost 70 percent of respondents to the survey expect their bandwidth requirements to increase over the next 12 months.

Organisation heads expect that the main culprits will be employees remotely accessing corporate networks, and the emerging popularity of video-conferencing between offices.

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