VoIP Awareness and the Low Usage Numbers in the UK
According to the recently published report from Ofcom, “The Consumer Experience of 2012,” VoIP awareness in the UK has risen by almost 3 percent from the previous year. However, the report also reveals low usage statistics, with only 29 percent of the 2,000 people questioned using such service. Interestingly, this is almost three times the level of uptake in 2008, revealing the growth in the service in a relatively short time period. These statistics clearly demonstrate the general public is aware of VoIP and providers in this space are becoming more established. However, the majority have not made the transition to such service.
Service providers such as Skype (News - Alert), FaceTime and Viber clearly have become the most well-known due to their established presence in this market, reacting to the ability to make voice calls over a data connection using the latest technology, such as smartphones and tablets. BT (News - Alert) is reacting to this trend in 2013 by launching an app, “SmartTalk”, which allows customers to make VoIP calls using their iPhone and Android handsets. It is clear that as more service providers deliver wider access to this service in the form of apps and communicate the benefits of using VoIP, usage statistics of this platform will continue to rise. BT is aware of the rival services and it is thought that the launch of “SmartTalk” is more of an attempt for BT to re-establish some relevance with customers by engaging more with the consumer segment.
Another factor affecting usage statistics is the availability and reduced price of devices that will assist in a shift towards this service, as tablet devices become more widely available providing portable technology whether in the home or out on the move. As users become more familiar with the capabilities of this new technology, VoIP and the associated benefits will become more understood by the wider audience. Forecasts from the Ofcom report show that, unsurprisingly, the younger generation and families have adopted VoIP most quickly in the UK.
Also, as the 4G network is rolled out across the UK in 2013, mobile data connection speed for these devices will significantly improve, with network providers moving rapidly to deploy the infrastructure for this mobile communication network. As quicker mobile data speeds are delivered throughout the UK, users will be able to harness the benefits of improved speeds and do more while on the move. The growth of the 4G network will allow IP telephony and other more data intensive applications, such as high-definition mobile TV, to be delivered consistently to mobile devices.
Business use is a slightly different matter however, with seven out of 10 businesses in the UK integrating some form of VoIP service in 2013, according to a recent study from Telappliant. As the scalability of VoIP services are not constrained to a single office or location and with business mobiles and 3G/4G connectivity making it possible to enjoy digital calls while staff is on the move, UK businesses are now starting to realise the benefits of VoIP.
As awareness and technology improves, the usage of VoIP will continue to rise and become more widely utilised by all of us.
Frzana Ashraf is the Sales & Marketing manager at Network Defence specializing in Managed Services and VoIP telephony solutions.
Edited by Rich Steeves