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Ofcom Report Says VoIP Not Mainstream In UK

A staggering 21 percent of internet users in the UK have used Voice over IP (VoIP) services in 2008 according to the latest Ofcom's Communications Market Report published on Thursday.

This compares well with only 14 percent in 2007 and represents an impressive 50 percent rise in 12 months only. But delving in the actual Ofcom report (PDF document (opens in new tab)) shows a different set of figures.

Only 12 percent of the 6,090 or so UK adults who responded to the survey said that they were currently (in Q1 2009) using VoIP compared to 9 percent last year during the same period with 17 percent saying that they had access to the technology.

Furthermore, 61 percent said that they were "aware of VoIP", a slight increase from last year where the figure stood at 55 percent. This means that although most users know about voice over IP, not many venture to use it.

Ofcom gives a number of potential reasons why this might be the case. There may be concerns over the perceive low quality of service of calls over VoIP, a lack of understanding over how it works and the growing competition from well established telecom providers.

Talktalk (opens in new tab) for example offers unlimited calls to 36 international destinations worldwide for as little as £2 per month. This figure however could be significantly higher as there are a number of telecommunications services that actually use VoIP services without actually advertising this as such; this include BT's home hub service, Orange's Livebox.

Furthermore, earlier in April, Three announced that all its 4.4 million mobile users across its network would benefit from free VoIP access through Skype without even having to top up their accounts.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.