The percentage of small businesses using the internet to make phone calls is set to almost double over the next 12 months. According to new research commissioned by BT Business, 48 per cent of small businesses will be using VoIP services this time next year. Currently the figure is 25 per cent.
The research, which questioned decision makers in companies with up to 50 employees, also showed that smaller businesses are leading the way with VoIP. Fifty seven per cent of companies with two to ten employees and 48 per cent of sole traders are planning to use VoIP in the next 12 months, compared to 20 per cent of companies with 31 to 50 employees.
The lower cost and convenience of VoIP are the main reasons businesses give for taking it up, with one third of 31 to 50 employee businesses recognising mobility, including remote access and flexible working, as the reason to use internet calling services.
Phil Purssey, Sales Director for the Indirect Channel, BT Business, said: “There has been a huge increase in the use of VoIP by the UK’s smaller businesses and that looks set to continue. However, there is a large proportion of the community, particularly medium sized businesses, who could still benefit from understanding more about VoIP and using it to the best advantage of their business. There is a great opportunity for resellers to tap into this market opportunity and provide the basic advice that businesses need to make the switch with confidence.
“For example, making VoIP calls over your broadband connection gives you a cost-effective additional line, as well as offering you capped-price calls to mobile and international destinations. VoIP also gives you advanced calling features, include voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding and call barring, offering greater flexibility and the opportunity to increase productivity by bringing voice, e-mail, instant messaging and conferencing together in one place. At BT Business, we have a range of VoIP services designed specifically to provide these benefits to business and our Total Broadband packages even include a free additional VoIP line.”
The research highlighted that there was a clear regional split among the companies using VoIP. With a third of businesses making calls over the internet, London topped the table, followed by the Northeast of England (24 per cent) and the Southwest (23 per cent). In fourth place was Northern Ireland (20 per cent), the Northwest (19 per cent) and the Southeast (18 per cent). Scotland came seventh (17 per cent), ahead of the Midlands (15 per cent).
Businesses in Wales have been the slowest to adopt VoIP, with only five per cent of those interviewed making calls over the internet. They are also the least likely to be using VoIP in 12 months time, with only seven per cent of businesses planning to adopt, the same percentage as the Northeast of England.
Northern Ireland leads the way for companies planning to adopt VoIP over the next year, with more than 50 per cent (54 per cent), followed by London (36 per cent) and the Southeast (29 per cent).