Companies are increasing their spending on IP telephony this year, and the trend should continue for at least a couple more years, according to a new report.

Forrester Research recently surveyed some 516 landline voice decision-makers in North American and Europe to gauge their interest in IP telephony. Results show that more than half (54 percent) of those polled are increasing their budgets for IP PBX systems and services this year, with planned migrations most likely wrapping up in the next few years. The research firm attributes the growth to diminishing concerns over reliability and resiliency, as well as declining costs, and credits an ever-increasing mobile workforce as forcing more companies to consider IP telephony.

“The market for IP telephony will continue to evolve beyond basic telephony upgrades as enterprises demand increased flexibility and mobile solutions for their workers,” the report says.

About a quarter of the survey’s North American respondents reported they had deployed IP telephony fully, up from last year’s survey, which showed only 14 percent had fully implemented IP PBX systems.

Another 24 percent of North American companies are rolling out the technology, and about 30 percent said they are evaluating or piloting IP telephony. Less than one-fourth of North American companies said they have no plans to deploy IP PBX systems or services this year.

Forrester advises enterprises considering IP telephony to think also about unified communications when selecting vendors. For instance, enterprise voice managers should consider contact centre, messaging, video and conferencing application support when choosing an IP telephony vendor. In addition, the consultancy recommends that IT managers consider all the costs associated with a five-year project when they consider upgrading from traditional PBX systems to IP telephony.

“Substantial network investments in gateways, QoS, security, media servers, LAN cards, switches and text equipment, as well as professional services, are required when you upgrade to IP telephony,” the report states.