It has been a busy year for telecoms vendors and their channels, according to Sandy Fitzpatrick, senior analyst at research firm Canalys.
The company has released figures showing encouraging growth in the IP telephony sector within the UK.
"We usually see less developed countries going for IP telephony and other technologies because they leapfrog old technology that they haven't installed," said Jim Forbes, Equant's head of technology partnerships.
"Russia, for example, had a very antiquated telephone system, and it was far easier for them to skip switched telephony and go straight to IP."
Perhaps more importantly for resellers is another trend identified by Canalys. "One key change has been an increasing reliance on distributors," said Fitzpatrick.
"Historically, the role of distributors in the voice market has not been as important as in the data networking business.
"But the two technologies are converging, and that means voice distributors are now handling greater volumes."
In data networking, sales have historically been through a two-tier model, Fitzpatrick claimed, with distributors handling large volumes of business. On the other hand, voice has traditionally been a direct market.
"Over the past few years this has changed, as voice vendors have spun off their direct sales forces into new companies, such as Damovo spun from Ericsson, or NextiraOne which bought Alcatel's distribution and sales business in 2002," Fitzpatrick said.
Canalys' figures show that in total 556,000 lines shipped in the UK in the second quarter of this year.
About 18 per cent of these lines were sold direct by vendors, 55 per cent went through integrators and service providers and 27 per cent went through distributors to resellers.
According to Fitzpatrick, the change from direct to channel sales is not happening overnight.
"The distribution business is changing slowly, and it changes according to market segment," she said.
"The distributors selling traditional PBXs are experiencing a different market to those selling hybrid or pure IP.
"Pure IP systems are sold by the likes of Cisco and Nortel, and at the moment they have gone straight to service providers and system integrators. As the market matures, distribution will become more important."
The number of products sold through the channel may well have received a boost from increasing sales of Cisco and Mitel systems.
Both firms have seen an increase since the same Q2 last year, and pure IP sales - the domain of both vendors - have also climbed.
IP sales in the UK are 11 per cent, higher than the worldwide average of 5.9 per cent. Cisco's handset sales have also jumped (CRN, 15 September).
"In the past year we have shipped a million phones," said Tim Stone, Cisco's voice marketing manager in EMEA. "In the three years before that, we shipped a million phones."
Forbes said: "This is in part because of market segmentation. IP telephony sells well to the small office/home office market and SMEs."
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