ACCORDING TO beancounters at UK-based market research firm Point Topic, the number of worldwide subscribers chatting away on VoIP has broken the 100 million mark.
By the end of September 2009, in fact, 100 million subscribers had already rallied under the VoIP banner, showing 15 per cent growth from the beginning of the year. This number includes only the real VoIP crowd with real handsets, not the lame Skype, Messenger, and VoIPbuster dependent ones, say the company.
Point Topic estimates the number current VoIP subscribers to be around 110 million, indicating continued 10 per cent growth over the past 5 months. The recent financial turmoil seems to have been a catalyst in VoIP adoption as consumers apparently exercised something called 'common sense' and took up the cheaper but potentially better alternative to paying traditional telco tariffs.
In September 2009 the US topped the chart with over 22 million hard VoIP users, closely followed by Japan with 21 million and France with 16 million. France boasts the highest penetration rate with 38 per cent of all fixed lines being serviced by VoIP. Korea scores an unusually low sixth place with just 4.8 million subscribers and the UK barely makes it into the top 10 in 10th place with just under 3 million subscribers.
On the soft side of VoIP, Point Topic also reports that Skype clients racked up over 27.7 billion PC-to-PC minutes of chat, in addition to 3.1 billion Skype Out minutes. This translates into $653 million in revenue for the company, despite 90 per cent of its traffic being free talk time in Skype to Skype minutes.
Telco operators have been resisting VoIP technology, fighting back by lowering rates and offsetting the will to switch services, but it seems VoIP - legal void and technical issues notwithstanding - is here to stay. µ