by Mike Masnick

SBC Promises Fiber Too, Triple Play Fight Is On

from the watch-out dept

It looks like the "triple play fight" is officially on. Yesterday, Cablevision announced their plans to give away VoIP, basically free for a year to attract new customers to their voice, video and data broadband bundle. BellSouth quickly followed with their TV-over-DSL plans in order to offer a true triple play (rather than the hedge plan of teaming up with a satellite TV provider). Today, SBC announced that they're going to invest heavily in installing fiber to the premise in order to offer higher speeds and IP-based TV. This follows about a month after Verizon made their fiber plans clear. As Broadband Reports warns, however, the telcos have a history of promising fiber and never delivering, so it may pay to be skeptical until the lights on the modem are blinking. Either way, it does look like both sides (cable and telcos) are finally coming to terms with the new state of competition in the marketplace. In this instance, the cable companies definitely have the early lead. Adding VoIP to their bundle is much easier than either building up a FTTP network or figuring out how to do TV-over-DSL. There's a lot longer history with VoIP and many of the bugs have been worked out. That's not true with TV-over-broadband, which is more difficult to build in the first place. However, looking out a few years, if the telcos can work through the issues, they may eventually have a much stronger package, offering higher speeds and more services. In the short-term, they've been able to win more customers by focusing on offering much cheaper DSL, a strategy that ignores bundling for now to try to sign up customers at cable's expense. With most customers just focused on the broadband, this strategy makes sense (and makes BellSouth's plan to stop offering unbundled DSL particularly short-sighted). What isn't discussed very much however, is the wireless element. The telcos are in a much better position to also bundle in both mobile phone service and wireless broadband services that make it so you can connect anywhere. The cable companies, for the most part, have stayed out of that area, and such bundles could keep the telcos in the game if they start pushing a different triple play of voice and data "anywhere", until they can get the "quadruple play" together of voice, video and data anywhere. No matter what, it appears the battle is definitely on, which should mean more competitive offerings for customers.

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