Telcos' Biggest Marketing Strategy: Inertia

from the just-keep-paying-us dept

A new study says that half of the US households that moved in the fourth quarter of 2006 dropped their landline service. A quarter of them went wireless-only, 13% switched to cable operators, while 6% chose another type of VoIP provider. The trend away from landlines has been visible for a while, but it's interesting to note how moving accelerates it -- making it appear that many people hang on to their landline just because they already have it, rather than because they really want or need it. For many people, landline service isn't something they want or need, and moving appears to act as a prompt to make them consider that. The stat also helps explain why telcos do so many things they do, like hamstring VoIP providers with patent suits, resist naked DSL, and sell bundles geared towards forcing people to buy landline service they don't want.


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  1.  
    identicon
    James Quintana Pearce, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    It's all about convenience

    I think it's an issue of convenience. For most people with landlines their family and friends have the number, and have had it for a while. To actively change systems is a big effort because of the change in number. But if you have to change the number anyway, you may as well change systems. At least, that's how it is here, I don't know if it applies to the US.

     

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  2.  
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    dorpus, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    911

    If a burglar is in your house, do you want the recorded message on the cell phone telling you to call 911 back later?

    If your family lives abroad, the land line is still a superior form of communication during emergencies. Cell phone companies give a lot of funny rhetoric which amount to $1/min for international calls, while computer-based communication requires the other side to be online.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:19pm

    Re: ���

    If a burgler is in my house, I get my 9mm and shoot him. Don't need a landline to do that...

     

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  4.  
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    Jeff, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    Thats not necessarily true

    It was my impression that the E911 service was just as effective as a landline. And unless there is a national emergency, like 9/11 style, the cell networks being shutdown is extremely rare. And if there is another 9/11, you will probably be the least of the police's worries.

    As for calling abroad, the rates for landlines are AWFUL. VoIP is a much, much better deal for this. Skype will also allow you to call overseas for a few cents a minute.

     

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  5.  
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    dorpus, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Thats not necessarily true

    It was my impression that the E911 service was just as effective as a landline.

    When I was in California, I tried to call 911 on my cell phone on more than one occasion. Every time, a recorded voice message either put me on hold or told me to call back later.

    As for calling abroad, the rates for landlines are AWFUL. VoIP is a much, much better deal for this. Skype will also allow you to call overseas for a few cents a minute.

    My landline charges 5 cents per minute for calling Japan. I would hardly call that awful. I have tried VoIP and Skype. Their sound quality is awful, and again, they require coordination. We once wasted an hour on the phone trying to get an older family member to install Skype on their end, but the instructions are all different in Japanese and it didn't work out. I wouldn't want family members bombarding me online with IM's anyway.

     

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  6.  
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    Stan, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    It always amazes me that people think of 911 as a solution to anything. "There is a burglar in my house!" "We'll be there in three minutes!" would not be helpful.

    When did we abdicate responsibility for our family and their safety to some ineffective phone number?

     

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  7.  
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    dorpus, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    What if you're hiding and the burglar doesn't know you're there?

    If your house is on fire, should you be macho and refuse to call 911?

    If your neigbor's house is on fire, should you say that everyone is responsible for their own houses, therefore refuse to call 911?

    If your kid fell off the roof and is squirming on the ground, should you "take responsibility for your own family" and refuse to call 911?

     

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  8.  
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    Betaflame, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    Dorpus rant

    If you got a message while trying to call 911 on your cell phone what makes you think you would have gotten threw with a landline? If your cell can't connect with 911 you have a serious problem with either your service provider or your police need to get more lines.

    VoIP- Cheaper but Quality is lost some. Telecom has prided themselves on have only 1/10000 people complain about the quality of there service. But it is obvious people arent so happy with it they aren't willing to try something cheaper.

    (whats up Dorpus, its been awhile since i've seen your comments.)

     

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  9.  
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    dorpus, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Dorpus rant

    If you got a message while trying to call 911 on your cell phone what makes you think you would have gotten threw with a landline?

    On the occasions when I did use a land line in California, I got through right away.

    (whats up Dorpus, its been awhile since i've seen your comments.)

    This blog has a tendency to fixate on boring intellectual property issues, so I spend more time on other forums these days.

     

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  10.  
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    IronChef, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    Agree w betaflame

    I agree with the analysis- I dropped landline a few years ago when I setup asterisk. Granted, quality is variable (because of my ISP- a cable provider without QOS, and I don't use it except for those times when I'm over my cell minutes anyway.

    I put $140 on the account two years ago and it still has a balance. The provider sent a Christmas card too. The service has a 1-800 number, two local numbers. I use it primarily to forward calls to so I can get my voicemail as an attached email, and for the TiVo to occasionally call home. For my needs, it works fine.

    By law, 911 calls have to be connected for free, even if the cell phone isn't on an account. But besides that, how often does the average person call 911, and does that substantiate a $400/yr bill for something that basically $70/yr works fine for my needs?

     

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  11.  
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    Chris Maresca, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Thats not necessarily true

    I have Speakeasy's VoIP service. Calls are free to 22 countries, which is pretty cheap. It's around $32/month for the service, which is competitive. I only ever use it to call abroad (mostly Europe). At first, call quality was really bad, but now it's better than a cell phone, almost as good as a land line.

    For work, we use Pandora Networks VoIP PBX service and the quality is fantastic, better even than my old land line and we have phones deployed in 4 different locations.

    Chris.

     

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  12.  
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    RandomThoughts, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:14pm

    People do need to realize that 911 service works differently for VoIP than it does from a landline. The same goes with wireless 911.

    You will see more and more people going wireless only (for which e911 doesn't work all that well either) as younger people who are more confortable become homebuyers.

    Sooner or later it won't matter anyway, as all service will be wireless, anywhere anytime.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    The only reason for a Landline these days is to regulate your children's phone use, and because they do not have a cell phone-to-fax adapter that I know about.

     

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  14.  
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    Brandon Watts, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 1:51pm

    Landline? Who Needs One?

    The study is correct. I purchased and moved into a new home last year, but I still haven't had the phone company come out and connect my landline, and I don't see myself doing this anytime soon.

    What can I say, wireless is what it's all about.

    Brandon Watts
    Criteo Evangelist

     

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  15.  
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    Scott Emick, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Cellular 911

    In Ohio, in some counties like Cuyahoga the largest, the cellular 911 calls go through the same way as landline 911 does. In other smaller counties like mahoning county, the cell calls are forwarded to the state highway patrol dispatch. Eventually they will need to do away with that because the number of calls will begin to overwhelm the OSHP post.

    Scott

     

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  16.  
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    mark, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 2:13pm

    Missing the point

    This isn't about whether it's better or worse to go without a landline; that's a highly nuanced economic decision for which each customer must balance quality, price, service availability, evilness of the telco in their region, and a lot of other factors. The point here is that customers have a widening range of preferences and increasingly local telcos don't have offerings to satisfy them. Local telcos still prefer the old myths that a) distance = $$, and b) features like call waiting and voice mail should cost $5/feature/month. I think if they succeed in shutting down VoIP competition they're going to be really surprised at the number of customers who don't come back.

     

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  17.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Apr 27th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: Dorpus rant

    I'm suspicious. You seem to make a lot of phone calls to 911. Perhaps you are confusing it with 411 or 311. Then again, knowing your thought processes and overall paranoia, I'm not surprised you are calling 911.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    they do not have a cell phone-to-fax adapter that I know about.

    Traditional fax is more obsolete than landlines. Convert to email, scan and send, efax, etc.

     

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  19.  
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    SmiteTheTelco, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:06pm

    Funny this comes up...

    Just last June (06), I moved from one apartment complex to another in the city where I live.. not even 3 miles away.. I took with me my AT&T dsl and landline.. 2 months later I get a bill for $160 - $99.86 for "Local Service".

    I called, of course, and was told that since I didn't return a piece of mail sent (which I never got of course and have since found out that the State of California is mailing those out now..) , that my local service took on a normal service rate.. But they didn't have answers on why the charge was so high..Nobody charges $100 for local service!

    They charged me $30 to move the service.. (how's that for customer loyalty incentive?) and a few other charges for "FAILING TO RETURN THE MAIL" that I never got.

    After many calls and arguments, I dropped their sorry ass and took up VOIP through SunRocket. Couldn't be happier..

    AT&T has since sent me to collections and ruined my credit - So I have decided to mail them a check for $3 a month until it is paid off..

    Who knows how long VOIP will last now that Verizon is on a suing spree.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: ���

    "If a burgler is in my house, I get my 9mm and shoot him. Don't need a landline to do that..."

    Wow, you're cool! Can I be like you when I grow up? Do you walk around your house strapped? How do make sure you're always ready to bust a cap?

     

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  21.  
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    dorpus, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Dorpus rant

    I'm suspicious. You seem to make a lot of phone calls to 911. Perhaps you are confusing it with 411 or 311. Then again, knowing your thought processes and overall paranoia, I'm not surprised you are calling 911.

    I lived in California for 5 years and called 911 about 3 times. The first time, I saw a board with nails sticking out of it on the highway, I tried to call 911 on the cell, got put on hold, then it disconnected. The second time, a reckless driver almost clipped me, I tried to call 911, I got a recorded message telling me to call back later. Third time, I called on a land line from home for a noise complaint, got through right away.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:45pm

    I lived in California for 5 years and called 911 about 3 times. The first time, I saw a board with nails sticking out of it on the highway, I tried to call 911 on the cell, got put on hold, then it disconnected. The second time, a reckless driver almost clipped me, I tried to call 911, I got a recorded message telling me to call back later. Third time, I called on a land line from home for a noise complaint, got through right away.

    I thought 911 was ment for emergencies?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dorpus rant


    Oh God, Dorpus, you're that guy.

    I mean, you called 911 to complain about noise???

    Seriously, it's no wonder people are being put on hold when jackasses like you are using it to complain the radio next door is too loud.

     

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  24.  
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    Ehhh, Apr 27th, 2007 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dorpus rant

    People who call 911 for "noise complaints" are the reason you get the call back later message. Hmm let's see what an emergency really is. Loud neighbors at 1am (oooh yeah that's totally not an abuse of the 911 system) or a kid bleeding in the street after getting shot. I guess you figure "he would have died eventually anyways."

     

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  25.  
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    Charles Griswold, Apr 28th, 2007 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re:

    What if you're hiding and the burglar doesn't know you're there?

    If your house is on fire, should you be macho and refuse to call 911?

    If your neigbor's house is on fire, should you say that everyone is responsible for their own houses, therefore refuse to call 911?

    If your kid fell off the roof and is squirming on the ground, should you "take responsibility for your own family" and refuse to call 911?

    Why, yes. Yes, you should, in cases where 911 could help save the lives of your family members, be a man and refuse to call for help. That's because you want to be a Real Man (TM), and (as everyone knows) Real Men (TM) are complete morons!

    Good god, man, use your head for a change.

     

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  26.  
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    Charles Griswold, Apr 28th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dorpus rant

    Third time, I called on a land line from home for a noise complaint, got through right away.

    A noise complaint. You called 911 for a noise complaint. The 911 emergency number is for emergencies. Ya know, fires, kids falling off of roofs, people being shot? Not for God-damned NOISE COMPLAINTS!

    Honestly, I don't know why you didn't go to jail for that. You should have.

     

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  27.  
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    SailorRipley, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dorpus rant

    I lived in California for 5 years and called 911 about 3 times. The first time, I saw a board with nails sticking out of it on the highway, I tried to call 911 on the cell, got put on hold, then it disconnected. The second time, a reckless driver almost clipped me, I tried to call 911, I got a recorded message telling me to call back later. Third time, I called on a land line from home for a noise complaint, got through right away.

    so let's see, you called twice with your cell and once from a land line...and not once did you do both at the same time (or within seconds of each other)...wow, that really supports your position...you don't even have the slightest shred of evidence it was cell related and not 911...

     

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