Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony is growing rapidly in the UK, but has yet to reach mass market – currently six million people worldwide make VoIP calls, mostly in the USA and Japan. In years to come this could be the number of people making VoIP calls in Britain alone. Ofcom have reports and suggestions on how the sector should be managed – including setting aside a block of non-geographic numbers for VoIP services.
To promote the sector and effectively lobby Parliament, thirteen UK companies have grouped together to form the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA). The thirteen founder members are Call UK, ET Phones, Gossiptel, Gradwell.com, Idesk, Imass Telecom, Intervivo, Magrathea, Mistral Internet, Speak2World, Telappliant, Telco Global and T-Strategy. It is not yet known if BT will be permitted to join the group.
The ITSPA hopes for a self-regulating sector, known for innovation: spokesman Kim Thesiger said “Internet Telephony providers now offer a serious alternative to the existing telephone companies, and we need to look at the levels of regulation and encouragement that this industry needs. This technology will revolutionise the way in which consumers and businesses make voice calls over the next few years ushering in far cheaper prices for phone calls and offering a wealth of new products and services that were only available to the biggest corporations until now.”