US Home Broadband Usage Jumps as VoIP Takes Off

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US Home Broadband Usage Jumps as VoIP Takes Off US Home Broadband Usage Jumps as VoIP Takes OffUS Home Broadband Usage Jumps as VoIP Takes Off


31 August 2013

The Pew Research Center’s ongoing Internet & American Life Project has revealed that 70% of Americans now have wireless broadband services at home, with another 10% gaining WiFi access through the use of a smartphone only. Those figures represent an overall jump of 15% since 2010. One reason for the recent spike in that percentage may be the increasing popularity of residential “VoIP”, or, Voice over Internet Protocol.

The Pew study found that in the last five years the percentage of adults who use broadband services in the home has grown from 70% to 85%. The difference, it seems, lies in how people are using the Internet. The report states that “some 39% of Americans have positive and improving attitudes about digital resources...on wireless platforms”, including Internet telephony. 2011 figures found that 24% of adult Americans placed phone calls over the Internet.

Moreover, the study concludes that the majority of the 34 million Internet users who were considering VoIP as a means of home telephone service fit the profile of the “early adopter”; they are “well-educated, willing to try new things, and able to troubleshoot hassles that may arise with new technologies.”

Smartphones, and tablets, and VoIP, oh my!

An article in the LA Times supports the connection between the dramatic increase in home Internet use and the growing popularity of VoIP, saying: “Much of the growth appears to have come from people accessing the Internet from smartphones and tablets and computers at work.” The fact that VoIP can be used on all of these devices suggests a strong correlation between Internet calling and the increase in home broadband use

Many residential VoIP service providers include unlimited long-distance and some unlimited international calling with their basic service plans. This makes VoIP providers attractive alternatives to traditional landline and cable companies, who charge exorbitant rates for international calling, particularly in multi-ethnic urban areas.

How Residential VoIP Works

The way residential VoIP works is this: Home networking systems use broadband as a way to transmit voice and data from point A to point B. Instead of using broadband on a landline like DSL or fiber-optic cable, wireless broadband uses the Internet to transmit that data with fixed-wireless broadband.

Wireless connections to service providers then use radio signals to transmit calls, rather than cables, making it faster and much, much cheaper than traditional landline transmission. As a result, more people can afford a home network and are switching over to WiFi service for their Internet access and telephone service as well.

US consumers pay the most for broadband

As broadband becomes cheaper, traditional phone and cable providers “have had to increase the price of their monthly plans to keep revenue steady as fortunes decline in other units”, says Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Cay Johnston, in his new book, The Fine Print: how big companies use “plain English” to rob you blind. Johnston recently told a Yahoo! Finance reporter that Americans currently pay as much as four times what other nations pay for IP telephone, cable TV, and Internet packages. Johnston explains that the average American pays a cable company up to $160/month, whereas Internet telephone packages based on IP, which are far more ubiquitous overseas, can cost as little as $38/month including unlimited long distance and international calling.

As more Americans become aware of how cheap residential VoIP is, home-based WiFi broadband usage will increase and the cable companies will likely suffer further losses as customers switch to inexpensive residential VoIP and home WiFi service.

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