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The use of internet telephony has doubled over the last year according to analysts at Point Topic.

Its research found that more than 11 million people around the world use a retail voice over IP (VoIP) service compared to five million a year ago. The numbers exclude PC-based "soft-client" services such as Skype.

With 7.2m regular users, Japan leads the VoIP pop charts followed by the US with 2.1m users. In Europe, France is the largest market for VoIP with 1.2m subscribers.

But what of "soft-client" services? Although Skype has some 35m registered users, Point Topic reckons that many "never or rarely use" the service to make free calls over the net.

It's own assessment of the market suggests that these services account for just under 6m VoIP users - taking the total number of VoIP users to around 17m.

Elsewhere, Vonage has teamed up with online chat outfit Paltalk to flog its broadband telephony service.

Paltalk has some 3.5m users who use its voice and video-enabled chat rooms.

Vonage seems to think these punters are just the sort who'd be interested in paying £9.99 ($14.99) a month for its VoIP. ®

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