NEW YORK — More and more, the trusty telephone is gathering dust.
The number of Americans who use the Internet to make calls jumped since 2007, according to a new report. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 24 percent of adults who use the internet have made a call online. Pew conducted its research in April and May of 2011.
Programs like Skype and Vonage, which allow Internet users to hear the voices of friends and family without the aid of a telephone connection, have been available for several years. But before 2007, at most about a tenth of Internet users used them. Pew has not asked Internet users about online phone calls since 2007.
The Internet has increasingly become a destination for voice calls. On any given day, 5 percent of Internet users are going online to make calls.
Online calls have risen in popularity at the same time as smartphones and tablets. Using online phone services on handheld devices has made the calls more convenient, according to Pew. The calls also tend to be free or cheap.
Technology giants have noticed that online calls are big business. Microsoft recently bought Skype. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and NBC Universal, which is a unit of Comcast Corp.)
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