VoIP's Already Great Growth Is Accelerating

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Five Things You Need to Know About VoIP

The top five things you might not be aware of, but should know when it comes to VoIP.

In a relatively few short years, using the Internet to make phone calls has gone from being somewhat exotic to being commonplace. Indeed, a couple of recent studies suggest just how common it has become.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report this week that said that 24 percent of Internet users have placed calls on the Internet. That, the organization said, equates to 19 percent of all American adults. About 5 percent of Internet users place an online call on any given day. That's a significant increase from February 2007 when 8 percent of Internet users - 6 percent of adults - used the Internet for voice. That study found that 2 percent made calls using the Internet on any given day. The most recent version of the study specifically mentions Skype and Vonage. That, Pew said, could account for some of the increase.

The trend will continue. The acquisition of Skype by Microsoft will no doubt make VoIP even more accessible, though the precise path is impossible to determine. IBISWorld released research, including a very interesting chart, that suggests VoIP was the big winner in percentage growth between 2000 and 2010 and leads the forecast from 2010 to 2016. In the past decade, IBISWorld says, VoIP had revenues of $12.498 billion and grew 194 percent. During the 2010-2016 time frame, additional growth of 17.4 percent is expected. The Atlantic article on the IBISWorld findings offers a good deal of interesting insight.


The cable industry will drive much of the growth. The last round of quarterly reports suggests that operators are well into making the change from being providers of video to being full-service telecommunications providers. That's well known. What is interesting isn't that they are adding voice and data, but that their video subscriber base is shrinking. These numbers, reported at DSL Reports, are typical:

Like other cable operators, Cablevision lost 8,000 cable TV subscribers on the quarter, down from a gain of 1,000 TV subscribers one year ago. The company lost 35,000 basic cable subscribers during the fourth quarter of last year, something the company blamed on their very public and very ugly dispute with Fox over programming costs. On the flip side, the company saw a net gain of 32,000 broadband customers, and 40,000 voice lines.

The same is true at Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the top two operators. Vision2Mobile reports that Comcast lost 39,000 video subscribers while adding 260,000 voice and 418,000 data customers. Likewise, Time Warner Cable exited the quarter 84,000 voice and 189,000 video customers richer, but was down 65,000 video customers.

VoIP has become common during the past decade. Clearly, however, even the great progress it has made only is a precursor to the next phase, when it largely will supercede legacy systems. Increasingly, the ability of VoIP to form the basis of extended and integrated service offerings - such as those offered on unified communications platforms - will be more easily available to businesses and consumers.



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