Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Wireline In Trouble?

In a WSJ article titled Why AT&T Killed Google Voice, Andy Kessler writes that Ma Bell is still tied to a per minute billing cycle for voice even as they build out U-Verse, Internet Backbone and Cellular 3G/4G/LTE.

He misses the point with this quote: "AT&T clings to the old business of charging for voice calls in minutes. It takes not much more than 10 kilobits per second of data to handle voice." VoIP calls eat up way more bandwidth than 10 kbps - at a minimum 35k. And data plans are just about flat rate, so how does a network operator handle this? They don't want to be a dumb pipe. But they are also holding us back.

"What this episode really uncovers is that AT&T is dying. AT&T is dragging down the rest of us by overcharging us for voice calls and stifling innovation in a mobile data market critical to the U.S. economy."

This is the telling stat: "AT&T's wireline operating income is down 36%. Even in the wireless segment, which grew 10% overall, per-customer voice revenue is down 7%." OUCH!

What's funny is that wireline replacement is usually cellular - most likely Ma or Pa Bell. They sell unlimited voice plans. You get voicemail, caller ID, etc. for free -- but you pay through the nose for the same features on the legacy POTS line bill. WTH?! If AT&T could ever get its executive, monopolistic head out of its own ass and enter the 21st century, that would be great. Even canceling CallVantage is an example of CLUELESS from the telco giant. Maybe the new FCC can help.

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