The use of broadband Internet connections as a medium for telephone calls rocketed in Western Europe throughout 2004, according to analysts at IT market research company IDC. Two million new voice-over-broadband connections (VoBB) were created during the year, an increase of 400%. IDC predicts that adoption of VoBB in Western Europe will reach 22 million users by 2008, generating $7 billion of revenue, of which 60% will come from the consumer market.
Voice traffic can be carried across broadband connections via IP packets (VoIP) or through other technologies such as voice-over-DSL. At present, the IDC report asserts, VoBB is mainly used to support a secondary line. However, it will be increasingly adopted as a primary line as services become more readily available.
Cable operators in Europe vary in their attitude towards VoBB, as many are also telecoms providers who might see it as a threat to traditional telephone network revenues. However, IDC reports that most operators have launched or are considering launching VoBB services.
"For many incumbent operators, this will not be a tempting scenario, due to the prospect of cannibalising existing revenue streams," says IDC analyst Jan Hein Bakkers. "Nevertheless, they will be forced into this market at the risk of losing out on customers."