If government agencies at all levels started making voice calls over the Internet by using voice-over-IP technology, they could save around $4.5 billion a year, according to a research report being issued next week by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a research firm in West Lebanon, N.H.
"Governments are spending more per phone per month than residential or business customers," says institution president Kenneth Brown. "The savings from implementing VoIP could be used to assist law enforcement, health care, and other government programs."
Institution researchers studied phone use and phone systems at more than 300 federal, state, and local agencies and concluded those agencies could save between 25% and 60% by switching to VoIP.
"Governments are getting pretty active in deploying VoIP," Brown says. "There are a number of cities, school systems, and other government departments that have deployed VoIP and are very happy at making the switch." A task force in California has recommended deploying a statewide VoIP system, he says.
In many cases, government agencies have replaced dozens or hundreds of standard phone lines with a few high-speed data connections over which they route voice calls, producing substantial savings. Says Brown: "More government at every level should be studying this option."