Image via CrunchBase
For years those of us who have recognized that bits are bits and voice can be carried over data pipes (i.e. VOIP) have always simply looked at any data connection as a pipe. Give me unfettered access over the Internet and I'll give you a better way to communicate was the basic motto of anyone with half a clue about the possibilities. Sometimes I have to wonder if the execs in charge of the networks are simply clued out, in denial or simply trying to keep their careers alive by spinning all kinds of "well we're not a dumb pipe." Let's face it. A pipe by any other name is....you guessed it, a pipe, and no matter how you look at it, a connection to the Internet lets just about anything that's an IP packet run across it, that is, unless you seek to block it.
Today's New York Times story brings front and center what's going on. Just like DSL and Cable modem networks of the last decade, now the mobile operators with the looming 4G connections all across the globe are being faced with the likelihood that their data pipes will go the way of their wired brothers. DUMB. Now thanks to the Times we have the story laid out front and center. It goes beyond what those of us have always known and becomes coffee talk all across the country. The not so obvious to many, becomes obvious to all now. And what we know now, and what many of us knew before is the fact that the wireless networks are now more worried because on one hand they want the added revenue that data brings them, yet on the otherhand they're going to lose ARPU on voice minutes and from texting/SMS as the new data side services take people away from the old, and they go into the new.
What's hilarious is that just about every mobile operator gets offered the opportunity to have the new services first. Nary a business development professional doesn't have access to their counterparts at all their major mobile telcos via their LinkedIn directory or from first person relationships so the fear of the rising tide of upstarts isn't paranoia. It's reality. Apple, Google, Microsoft, the Yahoo and AOL of old all had it figured out, and only IP communications is the future and they built their businesses that way. Remember, long before Microsoft bought Skype last week, Verizon made an offer that was rejected out of hand. Now Verizon Wireless should start to worry. Microsoft's lobbying in D.C. is as good, or better than their's. If the FCC says "no blocking Skype" and "keep your prices under $49.99 a month for unlimited access" they lose. Heck, the upcoming $70.00 a month all you can talk, text and surf plan from T-Mobile in the USA means a shift is coming. And at $70.00 a month, no contract for truely unlimited, it means Skype, GoogleVoice, Tango, YouTube to your heart's content on Android devices (at least until the iPhone comes to big T)
In my view, we'd all be better if we were sold reliable, fast, stable unblocked Internet access for a flat $70.00 a month from Verizon or AT&T. Give us that and keep your customers on your network. Keep it running, let me run voice, video, streaming and I'd bet that there would be more adoption of new services. Fail to do that, and watch the churn numbers go up and up between carriers.
The telcos then should be the ones investing in the new upcoming ideas, directly if they want to see the growth. Then, as marketing machines, which clearly AT&T and Verizon now are, they could add on new services, that today are offered for free. Lower the price to $89.99 and sell one more. Drop it to $79.99 you'll likely sell three more add-on services. Go to $49.99 and even more, because as the price of access drops the more new services will be added on.
Think of it this way. Internet access is the technology world's loss leader. Give the access away, like the razor, and watch them buy the blades.