Skype is the leading VoIP provider in North America, according to research published today by broadband network equipment maker Sandvine.
Of more than 1,100 identified VoIP providers, Skype takes the lead with a huge 35.8 per cent of all VoIP calls made in the US and 46.2 per cent share of VoIP minutes, suggesting that Skype users are also making longer calls.
Other PC-based VoIP services, including those offered by Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, are distant seconds.
Third-party paid VoIP providers represented 35.7 per cent of all VoIP minutes. Broadband service providers hold the strongest position in this category since joining the race, quickly closing the gap with an 18.1 per cent share of all VoIP minutes on their network.
Vonage, Primus and AT&T CallVantage captured the next three positions.
"VoIP consumes minimal bandwidth on a broadband service provider's network," said Tom Donnelly, executive vice president for marketing and sales at Sandvine.
"Understanding which subscribers are using VoIP, how much of it, and for how long gives service providers actionable data to prioritise VoIP traffic and ensure optimal quality of experience."
Lindsay Schroth, senior analyst for broadband access technologies at Yankee Group, added: "VoIP represents a small percentage of bandwidth, but a very large revenue opportunity for broadband service providers.
"Broadband providers can capitalise on this opportunity by protecting their subscribers' VoIP service and delivering a consistent, reliable and high-quality service."
2004 was termed the "year of VoIP rollouts" and the first half of 2005 has seen explosive consumer adoption. Yankee Group estimated that VoIP will serve 17.5 million US households by the end of 2008.
A separate report published today by ABI Research suggests that worldwide VoIP services will clock up a relatively small number of subscribers compared to conventional fixed and mobile phone offerings for at least the next five years.