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How many VoIP providers are there really

The ACMA says there are 118 VoIP providers in Australia, research company Market Clarity puts the number at almost double that. Who's right?

After iTWire noted the discrepancy yesterday we received a comment from a source who wished to remain anonymous questioning Market Clarity's estimate. "Market Clarity's total is misleading as it includes systems integrators and consultants supplying VoIP in corporate solutions. I think the 118 is closer to the number supplying retail solutions to the consumer market but since there's no registration requirement no one really knows. I wish [Market Clarity CEO, Shara Evans] would make that clear when she makes presentations!"

Market Clarity, however claims that it does make this distinction. Evans told iTWire: "If we only include 'Internet-based retail VoIP providers with a residential target market' we are broadly in line with ACMA: our latest updates to the database  has 125 providers offering residential services. However, even this restriction excludes services such as Neighborhood Cable's, which are based on VoIP but use non-Internet tails."

"Our total count of Retail VoIP - which now stands at 213 (accounting for some recent attrition, and excluding wholesalers). We know that all of these providers offer call termination (either VoIP-to-VoIP or including PSTN termination). Some of them focus on the business market, and do not try to offer residential services, but they are still 'true' VoIP services."

She added: "We do not count companies which only offer consulting or systems integration (although we identify those companies which include these services in their portfolios)."

Evans claimed that the Market Clarity VoIP register was regularly updated. "We visit every URL of all providers in the Market Clarity database, and have been engaging in direct discussions on the types of services offered with many of these providers. We have removed a number over this year which have discontinued offering VoIP services...We also maintain a list of providers whose VoIP services are in 'pre-launch' phase - there are around 15 such providers known to us at the moment."

Market Clarity has also estimated the range of services offered by Australian VoIP providers,  and developed a breakdown of VoIP providers by their core activity.  "What this clearly shows is that the VoIP market is attracting service providers such as ISPs and IT sector companies that didn't compete in the fixed voice market," Evans said.

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