In June of 2008, T-Mobile opened a new front by offering over-the-top VoIP to its wireless customers. It was an interesting move, but little was heard on the subject after that. Therefore it came as no great shock to me when the company announced its intention to pull the plug on new sales. This has always been an outsourced service, so they have little infrastructure to take down and will therefore continue to serve their current customers.
The generic reason given for ending this VoIP experiment was ‘changing customer needs’, but of course the main problem was that this product never really met enough customer needs in the first place. Bundling wireless with wireline has simply not caught on in any form, whether in this form or in any sort of quad play. What customers really want these days is clearly mobile phones, ones where you can use unlimited data. Landlines are becoming an afterthought, whether VoIP or POTS. They also want broadband, lots of it.
Put those two thoughts together, and you see why consumers are so interested in femtocells despite little or no marketing by carriers. With a bandwidth guzzling cell phone and a femtocell at home to handle sending and receiving most of those bits, who needs a landline at all? Ever? All you really need is broadband, a femtocell hooked up to it, and a mobile phone that switches seamlessly between that femtocell and carrier networks when you aren’t home. It’s elegant, smooth and unified, so when do we get there?
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