Young adults hang up with the landline, VoIP to the rescue?

By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: A third of young adults (18 to 24 years old) choose not to connect to a fixed-line telephone once they fly the coop into independent living; a figure which has risen by 33 per cent in the past 12 months, according to research released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

While young adults are leading the charge to hang up the landline, the research also noted that fixed lines still have a strong presence in the homes of older consumers and for the use of fixed line internet connections.

Uniden senior national marketing executive, Brad Hales, told Current.com.au that the fixed-line market in Australia is a mature market.

“According to the latest market share (GfK) results for the last quarter the cordless market was up by 9 per cent when compared to last year,” said Hales.

What’s more, the use of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) has steadily increased in the past three years, and not just for international calls. 2009 figures show a growing number of national and local calls, and calls to mobiles, suggesting that VoIP may be increasingly used as a substitute for fixed-line services, according to ACMA.

At June 2010, 16 per cent of Australians surveyed said they used VoIP, up 3 per cent from June 2010 and 6 per cent from June 2008. 64 per cent of respondents used VoIP for overseas calls and 53 per cent used the technology for long distance calls.

“There is no doubt that VoIP will be the next biggest thing in telecommunications, but we feel this is still a good couple of years off,” said Hales, who also pointed out that of the total cordless phone market only 0.2 per cent is VoIP enabled.

“As a company, we are watching this space very closely and have supporting products, but at the moment the Australian infrastructure to support this is simply not there. VoIP will take off when the National Broadband infrastructure is rolled out and Australia’s internet speeds are on par with the rest of the world.

“The research that Uniden has undertaken suggests that people are still hesitant to take up VoIP due to current poor voice clarity and reliability that VoIP now offers when compared to traditional fixed line services.”

A lack of understanding of VoIP services was also cited by ACMA as a major stumbling block preventing consumers from picking up the landline.

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