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What If They Simply Made Communications Technology Better?

Rob Hyndman has a pointer to Mark Cuban’s latest: Think the Internet Will Replace TV? Think Again.  Cuban’s post can be summarized as: Today’s broadband networks are too slow.  The insatiable appetite for on-demand rich media content will soon overwhelm them. Telco’s aren’t putting in upgraded networks quickly enough to meet that demand. Cuban also provides some facts and figures to back up that claim. In the comments, readers have a number of viewpoints, including the view that Mark has ignored cable, and that cable can provide the required speeds and feeds.

The problem is that cable is now grabbing share from the incumbent telecoms, and grabbing it at an alarming rate.  Their response has been to build out a video infrastructure — to take the cable companies on, head to head.  That is, as Cuban points out, a very expensive proposition.  More to the point, Cuban says "In fact, by their own best estimates, they’ll be able to reach no more than 40% or so of American households with fiber over the next seven years."  In seven years time, will this be even worth battling over?  Land line attrition in the US is running about 10,000 lines per day, right now.  In seven years, at that rate, over 25 million lines will be switched out — roughly 1/4 of all the households in the US will have given up at least one land line.  In all likelihood, those 25 million lines will be the 25 million most profitable lines too, as early adopters, young people, and consumer influencers abandon the traditional land line.

What if, instead, the incumbents focused on ways to make the customer more sticky to a broad range of services?  What if they offered cellular, land line, wifi, VoIP, and internet as a bundle, with a common user experience across all five?  What if I had one address book, one email name, one phone number for every communications technology?  

What if, instead of today’s broken networks, the incumbents focused on having the best unified communications experience possible?

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • tom March 20, 2006, 3:28 pm

    Alec,

    In reading your post I thought of one thing: Google

    You wrote: “What if, instead, the incumbents focused on ways to make the customer more sticky to a broad range of services? What if they offered cellular, land line, wifi, VoIP, and internet as a bundle, with a common user experience across all five? What if I had one address book, one email name, one phone number for every communications technology? ”

    Except for the wireless and land line telephony, what are they not persuing? Add in “gdrive”, google calendar, etc and you can come up with some exciting scenarios.

    BTW, I do own Google stock (10 shares).

    Tom

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