22 years of VoIP

Two little ducks

May 10th 2017

Why 1995 was a memorable year…

Disney released Toy Story, the first ever full-length computer animated film. OJ Simpson was found not guilty at his sensational murder trial in Los Angeles. South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg, captained by Francois Pienaar. And VoIP was invented.

Surprising, isn’t it? It’s 22 years since VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) - defined by as “the transmission of voice ‘data packets’ from one IP address to another over the Internet” - was pioneered by an Israeli company called VocalTec.

Things were pretty basic: VocalTec’s ‘InternetPhone’ connected users to speakers and microphones over the web. There was no video, and both parties had to be on the same software. Yet even then there was a sense this burgeoning technology was about to rewrite the rulebook, disrupt the dominance of DTM (Dual Transfer Mode), and take users places they had never been before.

It seemed like very soon VoIP would become the go-to voice communications platform for business.

“With VoIP you are making people mobile, allowing them to collaborate, to integrate applications. You are not geographically tied”


The big VoIP uptake

In fact, it didn’t happen quite so quickly. Only now, more than two decades later, is there a definitive and convincing rise in the uptake of VoIP.

The statistics bear this out. A recent survey of 1,000 business “decision makers” by Censuswide for TalkTalk found almost a third (32%) of UK enterprises are adopting VoIP services to create better unified communications, and this is sure to grow.

Why the sea change? Unsurprisingly, there are numerous reasons. Firstly, there’s better trust in VoIP’s reliability. And advances since those early days mean its functions, including video, have improved too. The Censuswide poll backs this up: it found firms are adopting VoIP to improve efficiency and future-proof for new technologies. Indeed, 24% of respondents reported one key driver was more flexible working opportunities - essential for today’s disparate workforce, while 31% said they switched to make it easier when working remotely or moving offices.

Another key reason for the big VoIP uptake is the looming ISDN switch-off in 2025. VoIP offers the opportunity to update end-of-life systems, thus reducing the chance of outages and disruption while also bringing flexibility and scalability.

Transformation at your fingertips

The final - and in some cases most crucial - reason to adopt VoIP is cost. Censuswide’s poll found 55% of firms switched because of the telephony savings it would bring across the business.

No doubt factors such as the uncertain economic landscape and drive for greater efficiency, plus the need for service quality and transformation potential, were key considerations for the most cost-aware respondents. Two decades on and VoIP ticks all of these boxes – and more.

Reap the rewards

Voice and UC Sales Specialist, Martin Middleton Frankton, is a VoIP expert at Virgin Media Business. He believes jitters about moving away from DTM are now a thing of the past, as most organisations are looking to future-proof their systems.

Martin says, “People worried about VoIP being unreliable and the cost of replacing a legacy system, which usually meant expensive handsets. Nowadays IP handsets aren’t expensive. VoIP no longer requires a PBX at each site, plus everything can be run with fewer people and phone lines because voice and data go over the same network. Organisations can really reduce their estate and make it more flexible.”

Connecting at the click of a button

So, as VoIP celebrates its 22nd birthday, Martin isn’t at all surprised by its popularity – not when organisations are battling to survive in an age of relentless digital disruption.

“With VoIP you are making people mobile, allowing them to collaborate, to integrate applications. You are not geographically tied. VoIP represents a reduction in cost, flexibility and a rich vein of features reflecting the many ways people communicate today. Before, if you didn’t get someone you got their voicemail. Now people want to connect at the click of a button. From cloud telephony and IP telephony to Unified Communications, VoIP is the enabler underpinning it all.”

If you would like to know more about how VoIP can help your business, visit or give us a call on 0800 052 0800.


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