Good news for companies that VoIP phone systems and related products: Voice over IP growth continues. Yankee Group recently examined the consumer VoIP service market, and found that adoption of this new telephony technology experienced healthy growth during 2006.

During 2006, consumer VoIP adoption grew 125 percent, reaching more than nine million subscribers. This growth, Yankee Group said, was driven by the availability of services from multiple system operators (MSOs) and broadband VoIP providers.

As of year-end 2006, consumer VoIP services have penetrated nine percent of U.S. households, up from 4 percent in 2005. Beyond just being a replacement for residential phone service, Yankee Group said VoIP is now becoming embedded in Web-based advertising and a variety of click-to-call solutions online.

Consumers are now demanding inexpensive, ‘anywhere connectivity’ in their phone service; VoIP is going mobile. This trend will help fuel growth of VoIP ondual-mode mobile phones. Yankee Group predicted that shipments of such handsets will increase from 913,000 units in 2006 to 22 million in 2011.

Yankee Group also found 167 percent growth during 2006 in cable VoIP adoption. The firm predicted that, by 2011, most residential VoIP subscribers will get this service from a cable company as part of a service bundle.

With the broadband VoIP market continuity to growth, spurring new market entrants with increasingly innovative voice service solutions, Yankee Group sees significant potential for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). Large providers are paying attention to this trend; witness Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse.

“The disruptive impact of global connectivity will continue to change the VoIP market—making it even more difficult to measure,” predicted Yankee Group analyst Patrick Monaghan, in a statement.

Monaghan continued: “Despite some growing pains we’ve seen in the VoIP market recently, the market continues to grow and has significant potential as ILECS begin to migrate and create increased competition for both cable MSOs and broadband VoIP providers.”

The research described here by Yankee Group shows how VoIP phone system adoption is affecting the consumer market. Traditional voice is morphing into a new generation: the VoIP phone system. Many companies are adopting VoIP phone systems as a way to provide more flexible voice services to both employees and customers. IP-based telephone systems also offer distinct cost/feature benefits and are increasingly becoming part of corporate business continuity plans.