Is the end on the horizon for the traditional business landline?

Is the end on the horizon for the traditional business landline?

The last few years have seen the popularity of hosted telephony and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) notably surge, with businesses clearly taken in by the various benefits that come by implementing such technology.

A recent report by Software Advice, which offers online reviews of VoIP services, found that a need for greater scalability and mobility have been key drivers in the introduction of the technology.

It added that over half of business owners are looking at switching to VoIP due to current end-of-life system issues with ageing PBX infrastructures.

The popularity of VoIP has led many analysts and experts to question what the future holds for traditional telephony systems and whether they can survive when faced with the demands of a modern business in the digital age.

VoIP to take over

Some experts have seemingly made up their minds already, with John Carter, managing director at telecoms firm DMSL, telling PCR-Online that "telephone numbers will go".

"The on-premise old telephone system will be taken over by hosted VOIP. We’re seeing that and it’s being led by the input of fibre and better connectivity," he added.

His prediction that BT will stop selling traditional landlines by 2025 would once upon a time have seemed a little crazy, but the truth is it's a prediction that's been years in the making.

In a column published by the Huffington Post in December 2014, Nigel Eastwood, the chief executive of New Call Telecom, said that the rise of VoIP was a prime example of how new technology can slowly eat away at convention, replacing hardware and methods that may have otherwise have been used for years.

He points out that the decision from UK providers to raise the cost of fixed-line services has been met with little or no resistance from consumers.

Such findings should not come as a surprise, particularly given that figures from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom have suggested that in the year to June 2014, the number of minutes spent on landline calls decreased by three billion – a reduction of 12.7 per cent.

Separate research by RootMetrics has suggested that as many as 95 per cent of users would be comfortable without a fixed landline telephone.

Why VoIP?

The advance of hosted telephony services and the subsequent decline of the landline is arguably a strong indicator of how rapidly the corporate technological landscape can change.

The advances are likely to leave many businesses wondering how they can future-proof their operations and prepare themselves for any future trends.

Flexibility remains a key consideration, with the benefit of virtual numbers, which allow workers to pick up calls from anywhere with an internet connection, largely seen as a potentially important component of flexible working practices.

The advantages of flexible working have already been recognised by many companies of all sizes, with government legislation giving the adoption of the practice a further boost.

Not only does it offer greater flexibility to workers themselves, but it also adds extra agility to a company's overall operations.

As it is hosted remotely, corporate VoIP telephony systems no longer have to be tied down by geography, making it easier to expand and create national and international branches.

Combine that with the possible cost-savings available to users, it is understandably difficult to see any way back for the traditional landline.

However, Mitel claims there is still room for traditional legacy systems within VoIP infrastructure. In the second quarter, Mitel installed 235,500 new cloud seats, including 24,600 recurring cloud seats. Year-over-year, Mitel's total cloud seats installed were up 76 per cent while recurring cloud seats increased 68 per cent.

With that in mind, there could still be life in the old landline yet albeit in the ever-increasing shadow of a hosted system.