Retail VoIP subscribers increased 83% to 18.7 million worldwide

The number of subscribers to retail voice over IP (VoIP) services rose by 83% during 2005, from 10.3 million at the beginning of 2005 to over 18.7 million subscribers worldwide by the end of the year, according to Point Topic report

New research from Point Topic has also estimated the number of people paying for PC-to-phone calls during 2005 at over 4.7 million. When combined with the retail VoIP total, this increases the overall VoIP paying subscriber totals to just under 24 million, compared with 14.4 million a year previously.

Japan, France and the USA continue to dominate the VoIP market in terms of subscriber numbers. 

Asia Pacific has seen the slowest rate of growth in VoIP subscribers. This is mainly due to Japan, the main market, showing a slowdown in VoIP growth. The retail VoIP market in China has yet to develop, although several operators are trialling services. Government restrictions on VoIP mean that China remains in a trial phase, although some observers think that PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone calling has begun to dent Chinese fixed line revenues.

Retail VoIP numbers more than doubled in the USA and Canada during 2005. Although pure-play VoIP provider Vonage remains the biggest single operator here, it is the cable companies that are collectively adding millions of subscribers. Time Warner cable alone signed up nearly 900,000 subscribers during 2005, or an average of over 17,000 per week. Cable companies typically market VoIP in a way that is simple to understand, and which frequently does not even mention VoIP or IP. ‘Digital telephone’ is a typical way of describing the service.

US telcos have begun to deploy VoIP services in some territories, but have not released VoIP figures. Cable companies and VoIP-only providers are using IP voice to take telephony business from the ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers), and the telephone copmanies are having to play catch-up.

Figure 1 Worldwide VoIP subscriber numbers Q4 2005 and Q4 2004

Region 

Number of VoIP users (‘000s) Q4 2005 

Q4 2004 

Asia Pac 

8862 

7071 

Americas 

4583 

1389 

Europe 

5254 

1864 

 

 

 

Retail VOIP total 

18699 

10324 

Skype etc* 

4730 

4050 

Total 

23429 

14374 

*Notes. Numbers are estimates. VoiceGlo not included for 2005 due to insufficient data on operations. Not all operators publish comprehensive VoIP statistics.

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