As broadband connectivity spreads around the world, so do the value-added services of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and Internet protocol television (IPTV).
"VoIP is a genuinely disruptive technology; it is already changing the telecommunications landscape," says eMarketer Senior Analyst Ben Macklin, author of the new Broadband Services: VoIP and IPTV report.
Internet telephony, both free and paid services, grew rapidly during 2006, driven by the rapid uptake of high-speed Internet, a greater awareness of VoIP and attractive bundled offerings from service providers.
According to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), VoIP subscribers will account for over one-third of all US landline subscriptions in 2010, up from approximately 10% in 2006.
eMarketer estimates that 46% of US broadband households in 2011 will subscribe to a VoIP service, equating to 41.3 million VoIP subscribers.
"eMarketer expects approximately 30% of broadband households worldwide to subscribe to a paid VoIP service by 2011," says Mr. Macklin. "In addition to paid subscriptions, millions of broadband households are regularly utilizing free Internet voice services from companies such as Skype, which recently reported 171 million registered users at the end of 2006, up nearly 100 million from a year earlier."
Cable multi-service operators (MSOs) have been marketing their VoIP products as "digital voice" and they have made considerable inroads into what has traditionally been the bread and butter for the Baby Bells — landline voice.
According to the TIA, 9.9% of all landlines in the US were VoIP lines in 2006, and this will rise to 34.1% by 2010.
"Requiring considerably more bandwidth and technical know-how from service providers, IPTV is still in its infancy worldwide," says Mr. Macklin. "Nevertheless, it is on track to reshape a number of major industries."
Three key elements are necessary for IPTV to grow and prosper:
- Favorable regulatory environment
- Favorable TV market dynamics
Considering that there is currently only one country in the world with more than one million IPTV subscribers to date, France, it seems that few countries have yet to satisfy these three requirements.
"As a result," says Mr. Macklin, "unlike VoIP, which is likely to be universally attractive to broadband households, the growth of IPTV will be patchy across the globe."
eMarketer forecasts 41.1 million IPTV households worldwide in 2011, up from approximately five million in 2006.