EyeForWireless: What About Wireline/Wireless Carriers?

Following the panel that basically ignored the carriers, the latest panel is focuses more on the role for wireless and wireline operators (and is moderated by our own Derek Kerton). They, again, talk about how the two technologies (3G and WiMax) are fairly complementary – with the bigger focus being on mobility and coverage, rather than the higher speeds. So, they see things like WiMax as being useful for backhaul and filling in coverage gaps, with the possibility of eventually offering it directly users on a more widespread basis – basically taking the more cautious approach, but while still getting experience with the technology. In discussing business models, the basic summary is that there are different styles of usage – based on the three issues of price, speed and coverage/mobility. Related to that, of course, is the question of what sort of applications are drawing people to the service (and just how much bandwidth they use up) highlighting the problem that bandwidth providers always have (but don’t often talk about): if the incentive for use is too high, then people overuse the connection and do more harm to the service provider than if they didn’t have the customer at all. At the end, there’s a quick discussion about how VoIP can cannibalize cash cow voice businesses. Everyone basically admits that it will cannibalize voice revenue, but says that’s a narrow focus. The real benefit of VoIP isn’t just the lower cost, but the ability to add new applications and services on top of VoIP. Besides, the cannibalization is going to occur one way or the other – so the traditional voice providers are better off cannibalizing their own business instead of letting someone else take it completely. On top of that, the traditional providers have an advantage over newer providers in being able to provide a bundle of services which cuts down on churn (though, as the Verizon Wireless representative admits, this also means that people see a single high bill and realize just how much they’re spending – instead of just seeing all the individual smaller bills).

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