Recent studies claimed that the market for cloud-based voice over IP services is expected to grow to $30 billion USD by the year 2013. These numbers might sound really encouraging, but what is the real future for Unified Communications As a Service (UCaaS)?
Here, in the U.S., UCaaS hosted PBX services are experiencing tremendous growth. Small businesses, especially in the current economic climate, are always looking for more efficient, less expensive ways to handle their telecommunications needs, and hosted telephony has served them admirably well thus far. Hosted PBX services give them access to a whole host of really sophisticated features, without relying on a large initial investment for equipment or set up.
The increasing popularity of telecommuting also bodes well for the continued growth of hosted phone systems. One of the key features of a hosted PBX is that it can allow employees to receive calls as though they were at their desk, no matter where they are. Telecommuting helps businesses cut costs, boost productivity, and even limit their environmental impact, which makes a hosted phone system a really attractive prospect.
Currently, small business owners are making up the bulk of new hosted pbx customers. This demographic is one that often does not have the money to invest in an elaborate on-site system, and most likely lacks the space to house the requisite equipment. In this case, subscribing to a UCaaS platform such as Hosted PBX is a lot like paying for a web server – it gives small businesses the chance to access the technology they need, without needing a lot of startup capital or in-house telecommunications expertise to get going.
If there’s anything standing in the way of the continued growth of hosted telephony, it is the prospect of state and federal regulation. Voice over IP services, including hosted PBX, and other really innovative telecommunications advancements aren’t neatly pigeonholed into one legal category. VoIP could be considered a telecommunications service, but it depends on the Internet, which is not. The Internet isn’t heavily regulated, which means that it would be easy for new business VoIP companies to get into the game, and create a lot of healthy market competition. If they are regulated as telecommunications carriers instead, which currently is not the case, they would become subject to stiff regulatory guidelines.
Will regulation sound the death knell for UCaaS future? Probably not, but it is an issue that businesses will want to keep abreast of. Classifying Internet-based hosted telephony services as telecommunication service is almost certain to derail technological advancement, as service providers will be forced to scramble to comply with the government regulatory requirements for telecommunications companies, many of which don’t apply to them at the moment.
Hosted telephony is still a relatively young technology, which means that there’s a lot of room for growth left. As the economy improves and more small businesses open up across the U.S. and Europe, the key demographic for hosted telephony services is only going to expand. Even accounting for changes in regulation, the future of hosted telephony looks extremely promising.