12 December 2004

VoIP Adoption 1.2

Point Topic estimates at more than 5 millions the number of VoIP subscribers in Q2 2004. This estimation takes into account subscribers of the 6 leading voice over broadband providers, "where the customer plugs a telephone into the customer’s broadband modem"; and does not include Internet-only services like Skype.

Yahoo Broadband in Japan reported over 4 million VoIP subscribers, around 80% of worldwide VoIP subscribers. Helped by traditionally high telephony tariffs in Japan Yahoo Broadband boasts an impressive penetration rate of over 94% of its broadband subscribers.

The other 5 leading VoIP operators are Free (France) with 330,000 subscribers; FastWeb (Italy) with 300,000 subscribers; Vonage (USA) with 200,000; Cablevision (USA) with 115,050; B2 (Sweden) with 50,000 subscribers.

In a previous posting, the estimation of 16 M for Q3 included Skype and other Internet-only services, but didn't take Japan Yahoo Broadband, Free, FastWeb and B2 into account. If we added the 4.7 VoIP subscribers from these operators in Q2, the total estimation of VoIP adoption for Q3 2004 would be well over 20 M worldwide.

30 November 2004

VoIP Adoption - 1.1

Another perspective on the uptake of VoIP is provided by ISP-Planet's US VoIP ranking by subscriber: Q3 2004; even though I find the concept of a subscriber to a free service problematic: I tend to associate subscription with a fee and registration with free.

The article collates the October-November 2004 number of subscribers (with date and source) for eight VoIP service providers that make this information public: Skype (12.9 M), VoiceGlo (1.8 M), CallWave (823 k), Vonage (300 k), CableVision (189k), Charter (40k), 8x8 (28k), Net2Phone (7k). The total number of reported VoIP subscribers is about 16 M. Overall this number is conservative as there are still many providers which do not make their data public and many non-US providers that are not included in the statistics.

The article also refers back to a Broadband Reports VoIP market analysis that indicates an average monthly fee of 20$ or less; and offers an overview of newcomers' strategies to enter the VoIP market.

03 November 2004

VoIP Adoption - 1.0

VoIP is a major innovation that is having a major impact on the telecommunications world. Yet, surprisingly little information is available in the public domain on adoption, usage and attitudes towards VoIP.

In February 2004, the Pew Internet & American Life Project published a DataMemo on VoIP reporting on a study of practice, perception, attitude and familiarity with VoIP telephony: 2204 adult Americans were interviewed; 1388 were Internet users; 1 used VoIP at home. If adoption is absolutely minimal, familiarity with and disposition towards VoIP are much more developed. The Pew survey found that 11% of Internet users have already made a VoIP phone call; 27% have heard about the service, and among them 13% have considered adopting VoIP for home use. When projected in relation to the US Internet population, these percentages correspond to 34M users who are aware of VoIP; 14M who have tried it and 4M who are interested in using VoIP at home.

The Pew report describes the demographics of those who are familiar with the VoIP concept as corresponding to the "classic early adopter profile": the largest age group consists of people between age 25 and 34, well-educated and well-off, curious about trying new things, able to handle technical problems, a majority of male, long-time Internet users. They are more numerous to access Internet at home or at work using a high-speed connection than the overall Internet user population.

In May 2004, Jupiter Research surveyed U.S. Broadband consumers on their use of advanced voice-based PC communication services. Participants (n=812) were asked "which of the following voice services have you used at least once in the last six months?" and had eight possibilities to choose from. The most frequent answer was "none of the services" (56%), followed by "never heard of them" (26%). Some people indicated they had used "Voice with IM or chat" (11%), eventually in the context of games (3,5%) or with CRM (2%). Very few said they had used VoIP, either as main line (3%), as secondary line (2%), or in PC-to-phone calls (2%). It is difficult to project this number on the overall population, because the available statistics on Broadband concern household, and not consumers. What emerges quite clearly though is that VoIP penetration is very low even among the more advanced users in terms of Internet access.

Another way of approaching the question is by looking at the numbers of VoIP subscribers. Global estimations however, vary widely. The Pew report quotes Gartner estimation of 150.000 U.S. VoIP subscribers in 2003, and predictions of 1M by the end of 2004 and 6M by the end of 2005. Jupiter Research is more conservative, and talks of 400.000 U.S. households using VoIP telephony by the end of 2004.

Data from VoIP service providers are, on the other hand, difficult to collate. However, they point out formidable adoption rates.

Worldwide, Skype celebrated a year ago, October the 22nd, 1.5M downloads 51 days after the launch of the service and 100.000 simultaneous users. A few days ago, October the 20th, Skype celebrated 28M downloads for 12.9M users and 1M simultaneous users.

Quoting November 2004 analyses from Faultline, in the US Vonage had 7.500 subscribers when it started operations in 2002. Subscribers grew to 85.000 in 2003, and are now 300.000.

A last example from the Netherlands, via Eurotelco blog:

UnitedGlobalCom, parent company of UPC, stated that its residential trial of VoIP in Rotterdam had achieved a 22% penetration rate on the service with minimal marketing......Considering that UPC Netherlands has 2.3M customers and 2.4M two-way homes passed, a 22% level of uptake across its Dutch footprint suggests something like 510k VoIP subs over time.

Finally, always via Eurotelco, have a look at Xten X-lite Free World Dial-up user map

Where: US and Global
When: 2004

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