While there is a high level of awareness and interest in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in Australia, take-up is still comparatively low, according to research released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) yesterday.
The research found that 81 per cent of Internet households were aware of VoIP but only 15 per cent of respondents (being persons 18 years and over) and 13 per cent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had used a VoIP service.
The findings are included in the research report, The Australian VoIP Market, which presents the findings of research into the supply and demand of VoIP services in Australia.
ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said in making its regulatory decisions, the ACMA increasingly needs to understand community attitudes and the importance of electronic media and communications services, and also understand how new and different services are being delivered in Australia.
"Consistent with other research into the take-up and use of new communications services, VoIP usage is higher in the younger age groups and households with high income levels," he said.
"VoIP users are also more likely to be on the cusp of emerging communications trends, such as substitution of mobiles for fixed services as the main form of communication."
On the supply side, the report estimates that there were 269 VoIP providers in Australia in September 2007.
'ACMA has done this work because it is increasingly important that it has solid evidence on which to base its regulatory decisions and to inform policy debate about Internet and communications use and participation in the digital economy,' Chapman said.
The ACMA is currently undertaking an examination of a number of aspects of the use and provision of telecommunications services in Australia.
An analysis of the impact of emerging services, such as VoIP, is part of this work program and is complementary with ACMA's ongoing research work on the future of voice telecommunications services.
This work program is designed to assist ACMA in its role as industry regulator and is consistent with its regulatory responsibilities to provide information about the telecommunications industry.
This is ACMA's first report examining the supply and demand of VoIP in Australia. In addition to this report, ACMA will also be publishing reports examining business take-up and use of communications services (including in the farm sector), consumer satisfaction with their communications services, the level of substitution and complementarity between mobile and landline usage and consumer attitudes to and potential take-up of new services and technologies.
This aim of this report was to identify the size of the VoIP market in Australia as it is a service that has the potential to change the fixed-voice market. The low pricing and additional functions offered by VoIP services create strong competition for traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) fixed-voice services.