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Survey: Colleges Don't Trust VOIP Vendors

A new survey of technology professionals finds that 92 percent of them believe VOIP equipment vendors frequently over-hype the benefits of VOIP, and only 23 percent believe that vendors usually provide a realistic assessment of the costs involved with VOIP implementation.

The survey was conducted in January and February 2007 by The Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA) . The 279 participants were technology professionals responsible for maintaining and upgrading the networks of college campuses. [Ed. note: So they were ivory tower knuckle draggers, in the common parlance.]

Despite the lack of trust in VOIP vendors that appears to exist, technology professionals remain optimistic about the industry in general. "They are skeptical about the costs and the benefits the technology currently brings, but it is important to note the optimism," says Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA, who points out that 76 percent of all those surveyed agreed that they are more optimistic about VOIP today than they were three years ago.

The unnecessary expense of replacing current equipment that functions well was the number one reason given for avoiding or delaying widespread deployment of VOIP. In other words, they like what VOIP can do, but the vendors haven't given them a good enough reason to expend the resources necessary for deploying it.

Of all the college campus technology professionals surveyed, 65 percent of them are currently using VOIP phones to some extent. Out of that 65 percent though, the vast majority of them only use VOIP on 25 percent of their phones or fewer -- an indicator that much of the technology is still in the test phase as network administrators search for the optimal business model.

With all this VOIP experimentation that has been going on at college campuses , the technology professionals at these institutions have had a lot of contact with many different VOIP vendors, which makes their opinions on the subject relevant.

Overall, those surveyed agreed there are great benefits to a VOIP infrastructure, particularly in security, where unified messaging and emergency notification are seen as the most beneficial applications, according to the survey.

But for now, universities are following the "if it ain't broke, it don't need fixing" mantra. POTS still appears to be the big man on campus for now.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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