VoIP Gaining Ground, So Where Will Legacy Voice Make Its Last Stand?


Voice over Internet Protocol penetration among U.S. businesses will increase rapidly over the next few years, reaching 79 percent by 2013, compared to 42 percent at the end of 2009, according to research out today from analyst firm In-Stat. At this point I wonder what market demographic represents the last stand for legacy circuit switched voice. Will it be consumer landlines or will it be mobile voice over 3G networks?

Current telephone networks are gradually being phased out as the world moves to IP communications. Right now in the U.S. only 78 percent of consumer homes have a landline and only 22 percent rely on them exclusively. In the next three years I imagine both numbers will be much lower, which is why the FCC is looking at how to support broadband access (which is necessary for IP telephony) for all.

In the mobile world, legacy voice will stick around for a while longer. Even though the next-generation Long Term Evolution networks will support voice, it’s still unclear how carriers will manage voice calls over the all-IP LTE network. Plus, the existing 3G and even 2G networks will still be around delivering voice calls, so legacy voice is still going to rule on mobile phones.

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Thumbnail image from Old Telephones via Flickr



circuit switched copper still provides the best reliabilty and quality available. i expect it to become a premium high end service for corporate customers and others who will pay to have ‘nothing but the best!’

Adam Farell

Tom –

I have to agree with you, as much as I don’t want to.
You see we actually resell Hosted PBX services and our main selling issue comes down to reliability.

How do I sell the customer on VoIP access to an intermediary service between him and the telco when I just know in the back of my head that telcos are five-nines plus, whereas the local cable connection could be much less reliable.

We are still far from competing with copper voice.
Gaining ground for sure, but can we really say with strength “now is the time to switch to VoIP”? I question those that do with gusto. I do it because I know 99.99% of clients won’t bump into any life threatening issues – I hope, but a service agreement does define what I take real responsibility for. Please find me a hosted provider that does not include an uptime clause in their SA.

But I do agree that in a contained system, on premises VoIP PBX is a no brainer – especially if it’s done right.


Chris Damvakaris

The one place where legacy voice WON’T be making a stand is in business – the cost of maintaining a legacy voice operations versus switching to VoIP is nearing absurdity. Using an alternative means of voice communication saves businesses thousands, if not tens of thousands (depending on their size), each year. With an increased emphasis on doing more with less and general “agility,” monolithic legacy voice installations are becoming kin to the Tyrannosaurus Rex – impressive for their time but nothing but fossils today.


in a business environment there are two separate things to consider. the internal PBX will certainly move to VOIP; but the actually lines connecting to the phone network are not necessarily much cheaper VOIP than copper. the biggest part of the per minute charges are the termination at the destination end and the cost of providing customer support. both these costs are the same.

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