Voice over internet protocol takes centre stage at this year’s events

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By  Published  November 25, 2006

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) solutions were prominently displayed by a number of the exhibitors at this year’s Gitex and Gulfcomms events.

While the usage of VoIP is still restricted in the region — with most countries’ regulatory environments strictly proscribing how it can be deployed — vendors said that they expected this situation to change in the near future.

Once the regulatory environment changes, there is huge opportunity for growth of VoIP in the Middle East, Roger Karam, CEO of key VoIP player Efonica, claimed last week.

“The Middle East market has a huge potential when it comes to offering our Efonica VoIP solutions. We are keen to follow up on the regulations and legislations and determined to have a license wherever and whenever this is possible,” Karam said.

“We have begun operations in Jordan and hope to enter other markets in the region soon,” Karam added.

Efonica used the inaugural Gulfcomms telecommunications event to showcase its suite of services and solutions, including its patent-pending Internet Area Code solution. This feature allows subscribers to dial the prefix “10” and then dial their contact as they normally would, rather than clicking on user names, as is common with other free VoIP services.

Efonica also used the show to promote its paid services such as Efo-Out, WebCall and CallGate, in addition to Efonica Pro, a full suite of enterprise solutions.

Another company putting a focus on VoIP this year is USRobotics, which used the Gitex event to demonstrate a number of VoIP products on its stand including include two Skype certified products — the USR9630 cordless phone for Skype and the USR931 accessory handset.

“VoIP is a very big opportunity in the Middle East because of its ease of use and cost effectiveness,” declared Sumit Kumar, regional manager at US Robotics, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), althou- gh he added a cautionary note that it was difficult at present to put a value on the potential growth of the VoIP segment.

“Analysing the opportunity in dollar terms is not feasible at the moment as we are not sure which countries are going to allow it,” Kumar said.

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