17 December 2009
VoIP market and take-up continues to expand
A steady increase in service providers and more convenient consumer options have boosted the take-up of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services in Australia from 10 per cent in 2008 to 14 per cent in 2009, according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority report released today.
‘An ongoing increase in service providers in the VoIP market is leading to steadily growing diversity and innovation in business models and the types of offerings made available to consumers,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.
‘More providers are offering VoIP and broadband services. Meanwhile, there is an emerging trend for ISPs to include VoIP services as a part of a bundled package, especially over naked DSL,’ Mr Chapman said.
The report, Changes in the Australian VoIP market, indicates that the number of VoIP providers has increased from 215 in 2008 to 268 in 2009. As at the end of 2008, two thirds of companies offering VoIP services were internet service providers (ISPs). Fifty-two per cent of ISPs offered VoIP as part of a bundled package to residential customers and small to medium enterprises (SMEs), compared to 42 per cent in December 2007.
‘While providing an update to the ACMA’s The Australian VoIP Market study published in April 2008, this report helps further inform the ACMA’s understanding of VoIP market developments and the implications of regulation for voice telephony. VoIP is recognised by the ACMA as one of nine areas of regulatory pressure that are occurring as a result of convergence and the ACMA continues to review and respond to how existing voice regulation applies to the growing number of VoIP services,’ Mr Chapman said.
With new forms of service packages becoming available, consumers are able to choose VoIP as a complementary service (particularly for international calls) or as a telephone substitute with competitive local and national pricing.
On the other hand, the three main reasons for the non-use of VoIP nominated by those surveyed were lack of awareness (48 per cent); satisfaction with current voice communications (16 per cent); and a perception that it is too hard to set up (15 per cent).
‘While the number of providers and users of VoIP services is steadily growing, our research also suggests that low consumer awareness and the perception that connectivity is difficult are impediments to large-scale consumer take-up,’ Mr Chapman added.
‘The introduction of naked DSL in late 2007, for example, has corresponded with a growth in the number of service providers offering VoIP services as a complementary or a substitute service for the traditional fixed line telephone. Mobile VoIP was another technology development identified as driving take-up.’
Other findings of the report include:
- International calls are the most popular VoIP call type (71 per cent of users), followed by long distance (50 per cent) and local calls (38 per cent).
- Heavy internet users (those using the internet eight or more times per week) and those perceiving themselves as possessing a high level of internet skill were the most likely to use VoIP. As internet users’ skills levels develop, VoIP service use is expected to increase.
- Eighty two per percent of VoIP users are satisfied or very satisfied with their VoIP services.
- The majority of VoIP users access VoIP via their PC or laptop (76 per cent). Only 17 per cent access it via a home phone.
- VoIP usage by medium-sized SMEs grew from 27 per cent to 30 per cent.
The report is available on the ACMA’s website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
The ACMA is undertaking an ongoing examination and analysis of emerging technologies and issues in the communications services sector in Australia to assist in discharging effectively and efficiently its role as the industry regulator. These responsibilities include conducting research into issues relating to telecommunications (Section 105 of the Telecommunication Act 1997), and internet content and internet carriage services (section 94, Schedule 5, Broadcasting Services Act 1992). As VoIP services are a potential complementary or substitute services for the public switched telephone network voice service, the ACMA continues to monitor developments in VoIP and its implications for voice services regulation.
Key findings of changes in the Australian VoIP market
The report covers the provision and usage of VoIP services as well as technology developments in the sector.
The percentage of the population with access to VoIP in the home has increased to 14 per cent in June 2009, up from 10 per cent in June 2008.
The use of VoIP services 2008 and 2009
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Survey, Australians aged 14+, April 2009-June 2009 and April 2008-June 2008.
Consumers using VoIP
The frequency of internet use and perceived internet skills are the biggest drivers of VoIP use. As shown in Figure 3, heavy internet users (those who use the internet more than eight times a week) are more likely to use VoIP. Twenty-nine per cent of heavy users have used VoIP services compared with only six per cent of light users (use the internet less than once a week).
Internet frequency and use of VoIP
Source: ACMA commissioned survey, personal internet users, n=1,195, excludes ‘don’t knows’.
Australians who believe their internet skills are sufficient in all situations are more likely to use VoIP, 33 per cent compared with only 19 per cent for those who feel their internet skills are sufficient in only a few of limited situations. This indicates that VoIP users are more likely to be established internet users that use the internet frequently and have the skill level to meet their needs.
Level of internet skill and use of VoIP
The report draws on the following data sources:
- Commissioned consumer survey, undertaken in April 2009.
- Existing subscription data sourced from private sector metrics providers.
- Industry analysis from private sector research providers.
- Company annual reports and Australian Stock Exchange filings.
It should be noted that as the data sources concentrate on consumer and SME use of VoIP services, this is likely to understate the total take up and use of VoIP in the Australian market across all households and companies.