Cable operators and Vonage are driving continuing growth in the U.S. residential voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone market, according to In-Stat, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based market research firm.

Data from the high-tech market research firm’s U.S. Residential VoIP Market Tracker service shows more than 10.6 million U.S. households now have at least one active VoIP user, up from approximately 9 million households at the end of the third quarter in 2006. The emergence of the cable operators as a dominant market force seems to have slowed the growth of the client-based VoIP market, with only Skype showing gains in this segment during the fourth quarter of 2006.

On an ongoing basis, In-Stat’s service uses a combination of end-user research and market analysis to estimate usage and market share among all of the major service providers; network-based providers, such as the cable operators; analog-telephone adapter (ATA)-based service providers, such as Vonage and SunRocket; and client-based providers, such as Skype.

The recent research also showed the following:

More than 61 percent of active residential VoIP users reported they had discontinued or replaced a traditional (non-VoIP) phone service when they got their VoIP service, including 76 percent of those who use only a network/ATA-based service like those offered by the cable companies or Vonage.

Skype’s dominance of the client-based VoIP market has grown as its major competitors in this segment lost active users during the fourth quarter while Skype continued to show strong growth.

The ability to bypass international tolls continues to be a big driver of client-based VoIP services, with users of client-based VoIP services reporting 52 percent of their VoIP calls are international, while network/ATA-based VoIP users report only 6 percent of their calls are international.

The percentage of residential VoIP users who report they use their service for business calls either in part or exclusively continues to rise, with 51 percent reporting they use the service for both business and personal calls and 4 percent reporting they use it exclusively for business calls.

For more information or to view the comprehensive report, visit www.instat.com.          EC