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VoIP Feature Article

VoIP

March 03, 2006

IP phone subscribers top 10 million at end of 2005+

TMCnet News


The number of subscribers to Internet protocol telephony services topped 10 million at the end of December due to lower phone rates, the spread of broadband telecommunications and technological advances that have improved service quality, government data showed Friday.

Subscribers as of the end of December totaled 10.60 million, up 35.4 percent from a year earlier and 140 percent higher compared with two years before, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The number of those using optical IP phone services that allow people to use the same phone numbers as those of fixed-line phones they used earlier came to 850,000, the ministry statistics showed.

Major telecom carriers such as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and KDDI Corp. are making an active marketing pitch, urging customers to switch from conventional land-line phones to IP phones. In view of the ongoing decline in the number of land-line service users, it is certain that IP telephony will become the service of choice in the future, industry observers say.

IP phones became available in the mid-1990s when the Internet began to be popularized, but it was after 2002 that the new type of phone business began to take off due in part to the active push by Softbank BB Corp. to promote its IP service to users of its asymmetric digital subscriber line broadband service.

Also helping growth is the spread of fiber-optics broadband service. According to the ministry data, subscribers to fiber-optics broadband services totaled 4.63 million at the end of December, a 91 percent jump year on year. The figure is equivalent to 20 percent of all broadband service users.

The net increase in fiber-optics broadband users came to 650,000 in the October-December quarter, the highest quarterly rise ever.

The NTT group aims to replace 30 million fixed phone lines, or about half of the total, with optical-fiber cable by fiscal 2010, which should further accelerate the increase in IP phone users.

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