What Will Power VoIP’s Growth?

What's going to power the evolution of VoIP?

The industry has been growing in profitability and importance since the 1990s, accompanied by more efficiency and greater reach. But can VoIP sustain those levels of growth?

The market for VoIP services is becoming more attuned to its advantages, including lower cost of calling, mobile VoIP, and Unified Communications (UC) offerings. VoIP has demonstrated its productivity advantages for small and medium-sized businesses, with considerable savings realized as SMEs migrate to online solutions.

In the United States alone, we're seeing some significant milestones. According to the Federal Communications Commission, at the end of 2016 the United States had more than 58 million end-user switched access lines and 63 million interconnected VoIP subscriptions. That is, VoIP now accounts for 52 percent of the US wireline total, representing a major tipping point for the technology.

Such advances hold out the prospect of millions more American households and businesses making the switch in the next couple of years.

Now, smaller companies are broadening their use of services associated with VoIP: converged email, instant messaging, and email among them. VoIP is becoming a less distinct service and increasingly part of an integrated offering that stretches to more advanced online collaboration facilities and affordable support for mobile workforces.

Potentially one of the most significant global VoIP trends has been the uptake in the technology in developing economies, where countries are moving quickly to mobile-based VoIP without needing to transition through existing fixed line infrastructure.

Mobile VoIP holds the possibility for some of the most aggressive growth in the sector, especially as 5G networks come online, increasing the range of tasks and utility that VoIP can achieve for the mobile workforce.

According to Technavio, VoIP is forecast to grow at an annualized rate of 9.87 percent through the end of 2021 as more people turn to hotspots and 4G/5G networks. The mobile workforce will become an ever-more-important factor for firms.

Harder to measure is the growth outside the tracked FCC numbers, including the advent of peer-to-peer apps and technology like WhatsApp and Slack, which are not making use of public switched telephone networks.

Key Takeaways:

  • The growth of the US VoIP market has been considerable over the past 20 years, with VoIP accounting for more than half of US wireline.
  • Several major trends will drive the growth of VoIP in coming years, but mobility — the use of VoIP to support the mobile workforce using 5G networks — has to be one of the most important.
  • While possible to chart some of the remarkable growth of VoIP technology using FCC figures, the growth of peer-to-peer usage of VoIP calling via apps that don’t touch the public switched telephone network has produced still further growth that's likely to continue.