France Heading Toward VoIP-PSTN Call Volume Parity
Okay, so we're not there yet, but the latest quarterly figures from the country's telecom regulator, ARCEP, make for startling reading: 31% of all calls to national fixed numbers and 46% of all international calls are now made over VoIP lines. However, only 20% of lines in France use VoIP technology. So how can such a relatively small proportion of lines generate such a high proportion of calls? The answer is simple: bundling. Many of these connections are consumer dual- or triple-play services, where customers have selected a DSL service on an unbundled local loop, no longer pay former incumbent France Telecom any line rental, and rely solely on their VoIP over broadband line for fixed-line calls. Almost 3 million such lines now exist in France, making it by far the largest market for VoIP over broadband in Europe.
In the competitive environment of broadband voice, all the main providers now bundle in not just calls to French fixed-line numbers, but increasingly calls to multiple international destinations. Unlike other countries - notably the U.K. - where the call bundles of equivalent services are limited to one hour before the user has to hang up and dial in again, in France, "unlimited" means just that. So users are making the most of it and spending increasing amounts of time on the phone. While that doesn't bring the provider any fresh revenue, it has halted the decline in monthly tariffs, which have been more or less stable now for the past couple of years, meaning that any value-add services can generate additional revenue, rather than make up for ongoing monthly service charge erosion.
From Gartner Group