Public Sector Won't Be Rushed into IP Migration

Westell Technologies, which deals in convergence gateways, broadband access solutions and conferencing services, unveiled the the findings of extensive research undertaken into attitudes towards IP Telephony implementation in the UK public sector.

Westell found that an economically prudent migration to pure VoIP is by far the prevailing attitude amongst IT and Telecoms Managers.

The survey conducted among 400 ICT Managers within NHS Health Trusts, Higher Education Institutes, Police Forces and Local Government organisations reveals that nearly half of all respondents (42%) believe they will not complete the migration from legacy PBXs to IP telephony for 3-5 years.

"Our research has provided interesting insights into the number and profile of legacy DPNSS networks in the public sector. There is hard evidence of an unwillingness or inability, due to budgets, to move immediately to full IP telephony," said David McKeigue, Managing Director, Westell Ltd.

"The figures would suggest there is a definite desire within the public sector to stick with its existing legacy PBXs and sweat assets for as long as possible. Our Public Sector customers are achieving migration with our InterChange(tm) iQ gateway products by either moving legacy voice traffic onto their IP networks or by introducing new IP telephony systems and converting voice traffic to and from their DPNSS PBXs."

Elaine Axby, Principal Analyst, Quocirca, concurred with the survey findings:

"Quocirca's experience suggests that public sector organisations, like many others, will find VoIP an attractive proposition. However, migration is unlikely to be very quick - the public sector needs to be sure of the technology and the benefits before it will take the plunge."

There is no doubt, however, that the public sector does acknowledge IP telephony as the way forward with almost three out of every four respondents indicating that they are actively considering migration to IP - rising to nearly 80% in Local Government . "The benefits of IPT seem to be acknowledged with these figures, but the majority of the public sector has invested so heavily in its legacy voice network it is hesitant to migrate quickly but rather only when it can or is necessary," McKeigue commented further.

When asked what approach to IP they would choose, 'Rip and Replace' met with limited reaction with only 5% of respondents indicating this answer, with no positive consent at all in Education. By far the most popular option was migration using the existing PBX with nearly 40% of respondents electing to use this approach. A hybrid approach was the next most popular with a response of almost 20%.

"There is a clear message from the research that a rip and replace approach to IP migration has not been accepted and instead, the public sector have decided overwhelmingly that their migration to IP will be a controlled, evolutionary approach in order to maintain business efficiency," concluded McKeigue.