Global residential VoIP services will attract 267 million subscribers in 2012, a huge jump from the 38 million users registered last year, new research has predicted.
"Hosted service providers, the pioneers of commercial VoIP, are going to grow to some extent," said ABI Research principal broadband analyst Michael Arden.
"But it will be cable operators and other broadband providers trying to leverage their high speed data networks that will really push VoIP in the future."
Arden explained that the development of VoIP markets will play out differently in the world's major regions.
"In the US, VoIP is driven by competition. Cable operators are offering VoIP, hoping to take some customers away from the telephone companies," he said.
"Eventually the cable operators will start offering converged services, and to compete, the telcos will have to go to VoIP as well.
"In Europe, many telecoms operators are currently upgrading and implementing Ethernet networks for increased operational efficiencies. When they do so, they are taking VoIP into consideration and making it part of their network upgrade.
"Meanwhile in Japan, the drive is not coming from the telecoms operators or even from the cable operators, but from the third-party broadband players such as SoftBank. "
Consumers' decisions to switch to VoIP are based largely on lower cost and the offer of simplified billing, but Arden sees these drivers as temporary.
By around the end of the decade, be believes, the driving motivation will be how VoIP telephony is converged with video, online gaming and other services.
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