The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has put into service Hong Kong's largest Internet-based telephone network built on Cisco Systems equipment. The announcement comes as networking-gear maker Cisco pursues a campaign to deploy more Internet protocol (IP) telephony systems in the government and small-business sectors. 'IP telephony is gaining tremendous momentum in Hong Kong,' Cisco Hong Kong general manager Errol Chan said. 'That is why we are making an aggressive push to implement more projects in the next several months. 'After Hong Kong Polytechnic University, we expect organisations in the commercial sector to adopt IP telephony systems based on Cisco products.' Cisco's previous biggest IP telephony installation in the SAR was at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2001. IP telephony is technology that allows voice, data and video traffic to converge and pass through the public Internet as data packets. It allows lower communications costs and higher productivity than traditional public switched telephone networks or leased lines. Research firm International Data Corp expects the global market for IP telephony hardware and software products to hit US$3.33 billion this year, from US$2.39 billion last year, and reach US$15.14 billion by 2007. Kent Leung, PolyU's chief computing officer, said more than 2,000 IP phones had been deployed in the institution's new 17,000 square-metre Professional Complex building and recently completed resident halls, which have the capacity to house up to 3,000 students. 'Our target is to extend IP telephony services to all students and staff over the next two years,' he said, pointing out that the university had successfully launched various multimedia functions while cutting down on communications expenses. The university is Hong Kong's largest tertiary institution in terms of student numbers, with about 22,000 full- and part-time students. Mr Leung said PCCW served as systems integrator to help the university build its IP telephony system around a Gigabit Ethernet network infrastructure, also based on Cisco equipment. An all-digital IP private branch exchange (PBX) from Cisco replaced a Philips PBX box the university had used for more than 10 years. The university's IP telephony system is also expected to open up new opportunities for applications, such as unified voice mail and messaging services, which flexibly integrate all messages into a single inbox for access via phone, e-mail or the Internet.