Service Providers Will Have to Step Up Their Efforts for PC-to-Phone Calling Services to Fully Succeed

FRAMINGHAM, MA – NOVEMBER 14, 2000 — While PC-to-phone services proliferate and subscribers continue to increase, many problems need to be resolved before this type of service fully penetrates the home user market. This conclusion was reached by IDC, who put PC-to-phone calling services to the test and found that troubleshooting and call quality issues could deter users from employing this communication technology.

 

"On one hand, the time and effort required to resolve problems and the variable conversation quality could cause most home users to discontinue their PC-calling service," said Elizabeth Farrand, research analyst for IDC's IP Telephony and Web Talk programs. "On the other hand, the clear savings on international long distance calls might be enough to keep existing users and attract new ones."

According to IDC's testing, several factors affect PC-to-phone usability, with the primary one being ease of resolving problems when using the service. "While registration, software downloads, and initial configurations were generally easy, resolution of any subsequent problems required considerable knowledge of hardware and software terminology," Farrand said. Other factors influencing the experience include Internet connection speed, use of peripherals, and level of Internet congestion.

IDC believes the keys to success will be to ease implementation and retain users beyond the initial experimental phase. Service providers are working with equipment vendors to package software and hardware with personal computers. They are also currently adding many communications services such as conference calling, text chat, instant mail, and unified messaging as well as providing peripherals, such as headsets and video cameras, to increase online time and improve the user's communication experience.

Information like the above can be found in IDC's report Can We Talk? A Usability Survey of Selected PC-to-Home Service Providers (IDC #B23274). The report profiles PC-to-phone services from several providers that were tested by IDC, including Deltathree, Dialpad, Net2Phone, MediaRing, PhoneFree, and Yahoo!. It provides information about service types and costs, registration process (software download, set-up, and configuration), user interface (attractiveness and simplicity of graphics and layout), technical support and help documentation, privacy policy, quality, and free offers. A summary of IDC's experience for each service is also included.

To purchase this report, contact Bruce Atlas at 1-800-343-4952, extension 4053, or at batlas@idc.com.

About IDC

IDC is the foremost global market intelligence and advisory firm helping clients gain insight into technology and ebusiness trends to develop sound business strategies. Using a combination of rigorous primary research, in- depth analysis, and client interaction, IDC forecasts worldwide markets and trends to deliver dependable service and client advice. More than 700 analysts in 43 countries provide global research with local content. IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, ebusiness companies and the financial community. Additional information can be found at www.idc.com.

IDC is a division of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company.

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