Number of VoIP users quadruples

The number of voice over IP (VoIP) users in Europe...

The number of voice over IP (VoIP) users in Europe has quadrupled in two years, driven by aggressive pricing for bundled communications services, says telecommunications analyst Telegeography.

The firm reported that at year-end 2007, 25.3 million consumer VoIP lines were in service in Western Europe. This was up from 15 million in 2006, and nearly four times the 6.5 million VoIP subscribers in 2005.

The key driver of growth has been aggressively priced bundles of voice, broadband, and video service, a Telegeogphy survey of 13 European countries found. While prices vary widely, many operators charged as little as £24 (€30) for all three services, including unlimited calling.

"This strategy has been spectacularly successful," said TeleGeography in a statement. It expected Western European VoIP subscribers to top 37 million and to account for 29% of Western European fixed lines by the end of 2008.

Legacy telcos have fought back, it said. Most European incumbent phone companies have introduced dual-play or triple-play bundles. These often included flat-rate IP telephone services. Despite overall mixed results, France Telecom was now the largest VoIP service provider in Europe, and traditional telcos were five of the 10 largest European VoIP service providers, it said.

Penetration of consumer VoIP services differ widely from 43% in France to 2% in Spain, it said.

"A fixed-line revolution is underway in Europe," said TeleGeography analyst Paul Brodsky, "but it's certainly not happening at a uniform pace."

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