Residential Voice, Data and Video: Change Is the Only Constant - Page 2

 By Carl Weinschenk
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Weinschenk: What's happening in the voice segment?
Myers: On the voice side, the biggest area is not people moving from the PSTN to VoIP. It's really mobile substitution. It's the biggest trend and the cable operators have a slight disadvantage because they don't have a mobile asset. In some cases, some are building out mobile networks. Some are partnering with companies like Clearwire to fill those gaps.

Weinschenk: It seems that the mobile substitution trend is accelerating.
Myers: It's been in the works. I think the acceleration in the past 12 months is definitely much greater. And not just in North America. It is happening worldwide. People are cutting the cord. If you look back even five years ago, it was starting to happen, but within pockets of specific users, such as the young who grew up with mobile phones. Now it is much more pervasive. A lot of households are impacted by the recession. People are looking at their overall communications costs and will not cut mobile, but will cut fixed.

Weinschenk: Can you cite numbers that validate the trend?
Myers: If I look at penetration rates for households, fixed line -- traditional PSTN and VoIP lines – in 2008 had a penetration rate of 76 percent. That's still pretty high. If you look to 2013, the penetration rates will be 54 percent. In 2009, it is below 70 percent, at 68 percent. It is increasing quite quickly, and the rate of decrease for fixed line is going pretty quickly.

Weinschenk: Where is the industry in terms of fixed mobile convergence?
Myers: We are starting to see some providers offer some of those capabilities. I would say the uptake here in North America is not impactful yet. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile offer a very similar service. Verizon Wireless' Hub launched earlier this year. If you get mobile service, they sell you a VoIP line. You plug it in and you have the ability from this hub [to use] multimedia features to connect to your mobile account. From this hub, you can have integrated messaging and seamless voice mail, text messaging. It is not a handoff, but � now I can have a lot of those features, from a fixed line device or mobile device.

Weinschenk: You suggest that there is a quality issue on the mobile side, however.
Myers: One of the gating factors that people are concerned about before they turn off their phone is if they have issues with the mobile coverage in the home. That's not uncommon. Operators AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will launch or have launched femtocell capabilities. It is not pervasive or priced aggressively. What they are mostly using it for is retention of subscribers who are very upset with their reception. It's not FMC, but it's trying to make the move to mobile-only easier.

Weinschenk: What else struck you from the report?
Myers: The choices for consumers for residential are not what I would say are great. Typically, if you want a bundle they have two options: the cable operator or the incumbent operator. Those two classes will spur each other with innovation. If you are a consumer really interested in bleeding or leading edge, however, there are service providers who are more pure plays who will offer interesting enhancements.

This article was originally published on Sep 24, 2009
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