The number of retail voice over IP (VoIP) subscribers increased by 83% worldwide during 2005.
VoIP allows users to make free or cheaper voice calls over the internet by avoiding the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN).
According to the latest IP telephony report from analyst Point Topic, the number of subscribers to retail VoIP services rose from 10.3m users at the beginning of 2005 to over 18.7m subscribers worldwide by the end of the year.
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John Bosnell, an analyst at Point Topic, said: “If you then add in the PC-to-phone sector, Skype and the like, then the number of global VoIP subscribers gets close to 24m, which is about 65% up on the year before.”
Japan, France and the US continue to dominate the VoIP market in terms of subscriber numbers. But other European nations, notably Germany, the Netherlands and Norway began to see a significant number of VoIP subscribers by the end of 2005; and many of these markets were reporting strong growth for early 2006, said Point Topic.
Point Topic said the main barriers to VoIP take-up were “consumer inertia” and local regulations.