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Is VoIP Ready for the Mass Market?

Bank of America to move to Voice-over-IP for over 160,000 telephones across the entire organization.

VoIP Hits Trading Floors

Vendors that serve trading firms have recognized the potential of VoIP and are adding it to their mix of solutions. IPC's IQMX desktop turret delivers a blend of voice, video and data. IPC's Kenepp says the company has installed more than 17,000 of the devices to date.

He says VoIP gives firms the ability to put networks between their trading turrets and back rooms. This allows firms to rethink the way they architect their trading-room floors. "It allows remote traders to trade over the corporate network infrastructure. Previously, customers didn't do that kind of thing," he says.

The other area that VoIP is starting to impact is the traditional hoot-and-holler lines and automatic ring-downs that firms use to communicate with each other. They push a button and shout out instructions.

Kenepp says, "Most hoot-and-holler lines aren't IP yet, because they're pretty complicated" and the background noise from the microphones can impact the quality of the information transported on the network.

But Cantor's Claus has no concerns about deploying VoIP over the hoot-and-holler network. "It's a matter of understanding how it works and the best way to tune it and deploy it." Eliminating carriers in the hoot process is also one of the financial savings associated with VoIP.

For firms looking to move to VoIP, Syntegra's Skoglund says it "really depends on their existing infrastructure." If it's a solid WAN that's widely distributed, then the costs can be low. "If it's a completely disparate LAN environment, then the expenses can be pretty great."

"Infrastructure is important," agrees Global Crossing's Wagner. "You need to have the people to run the networks and maintain the networks and make sure they have the highest integrity and are security conscious. CIOs have to get comfortable with the reliability and performance."

That's the challenge facing BofA's Venezia as he moves forward. "The benefits are going to be large down the road," he predicts. "The folks who aren't entertaining it now, they will have to later. It's going to be the next-generation infrastructure." In the meantime, he's preparing for one of the larger technology projects BofA will tackle. "Failure is not an option," he says. "It will succeed."

Originally appeared in Wall Street & Technology, July 2004

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