Recent developments in the Netherlands VoIP market illustrate the strategic challenges IP telephony represents for incumbent providers. At best, VoIP cannibalizes existing voice accounts. In most cases, even that is beyond grasp, as IP telephony has proven to be quite a weapon for competitive providers able to bundle broadband access and VoIP in an attractive bundle that makes sense to people. The challenge continues to be most severe in countries where robust wholesale access programs are available.
The number of Dutch consumer VoIP connections grew 4.4 percent during the fourth quarter to reach 3.11 million at end of year 2008, passing the three-million customer mark for the first time, according to Telecompaper. Year-over-year growth was 18.4 percent, with more than 570,000 net additions.
The growth was driven by digital subscriber line providers, who increased their VoIP subscriber base by 5.4 percent during the quarter, while the number of cable VoIP subscribers increased 2.9 percent, the lowest growth rate since the third quarter of 2004.
Year-over-year, DSL VoIP users grew by 28.6 percent to 1.6 million, compared with an increase of 15.6 percent for cable VoIP, which at the end of 2008 claimed 1.45 million customers.
The total Dutch consumer fixed telephony market grew by slightly more than 35,000 connections during the fourth quarter of 2008 to 5.86 million, despite a 4.2 percent drop in "plain old telephone service" connections to 2.358 million. Year-over-year, the total number of fixed telephony subscribers dropped by almost 490,000 or 20.7 percent.
In 2009, the Dutch VoIP market is expected to grow four percent to 4.5 percent per quarter, reaching 3.5 million users in the third quarter of 2009, Telecompaper projects.
KPN saw its share of the Dutch digital telephony market grow to 34.9 percent at the end of 2008. During the fourth quarter, KPN won 56,000 new VoIP customers, growing 5.4 percent compared with the third quarter of 2008 and 28.2 percent compared with 2007, ending 2008 with 1.086 million users.
Ziggo (News - Alert) won 15,000 new telephony customers during the quarter to end the period with 803,500 VoIP users, while its market share dropped by 0.7 points to 25.8 percent. The third-largest VoIP provider, UPC reported 21,800 net additions during the fourth quarter, ending the year with 572,400 VoIP customers.
Year-over-year, UPC grew 17 percent, while its market share on the VoIP market dropped by 0.7 percentage points to 18.4 percent. Tele2 saw its VoIP customer base grow by 16,000 to reach 241,000 on 31 December 2008. Year-over-year, the growth amounted to 25.5 percent or 49,000 additions and its market share grew by 0.2 points to 7.7 percent.
Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi