VoIP Grows, Gets Favorable Customer Marks

More voice customers have switched to voice-over-Internet-protocol options in the past year, and the service they get is also of better quality, according to a report issued by performance-measurement firm Telephia.

Total VoIP-customer households reached 3.9 million as of January, with VoIP customers now constituting 3.5% of the total phone-customer market in the United States, according to San Francisco-based Telephia.

Among pure-play VoIP services -- meaning no mix of switched and VoIP customers --Vonage Holdings Corp. is in the lead, claiming 1.9 million customers and a 47.5% market share as of January. That’s a significant market-share increase for Vonage, which claimed 40% of the market in June 2005.

Other leading providers include Skype Ltd., with 463,000 customers; AT&T Inc.’s “CallVantage,” with 218,000; Verizon Communications Inc.’s “VoiceWing,” with 196,000; Google Inc. (www.google.com), with 97,000; and Packet, with 86,000.

The Telephia figures do not include cable VoIP services.

Meanwhile, VoIP voice-quality data showed that 67% of early-adopter customers believe the voice quality they get is equal to that of a traditional land line, while 19% percent said the voice quality is better.

Among individual providers, Skype scored highest on quality, with 99% of customers saying that it provided equal or better voice service, while 91% of Vonage customers gave it favorable marks.

Service-reliability figures followed the same pattern. About 71% of VoIP customers said their phone connection was equal in reliability to conventional phone service, while 16% said it was better.

Vonage won among individual providers in reliability, with 91% of its customers noting that the company provided equal or better service compared with traditional providers. About 74% of Skype customers said the service was equal or better.