Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Fixed/mobile convergence 2.0: 10 varieties

In the business market, fixed/mobile convergence is probably the biggest issue at the moemnet, with cloud computing. But what does it mean in the consumer market?

1. Apps. In the mobile data world, apps helped break open the market. In the fixed broadband market they are not new, but they may redefine how we use the internet.

2. Mobile-only. Why hang on to fixed voice, unless it is given for free as an add-on.
3. Unified communications. A call is routed to any handset, based on preferences managed in a portal such as Google Voice.
4. Quad play. The 3P and mobile are combined into a 4P. The addressable market is much smaller than the 3P market. Virgin Media UK's 4P penetration grows very slowly and now stands at 15.6%.
5. OTT. Apps, whether independent (Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk, Rebtel, VoipBuster, Kakao, KeKu, IKmobiel, Tango, Fring, Nimbuzz, eBuddy) or operator-controlled (pfingo (StarHub), Joyn (Vodafone, T-Mobile), TuMe (Telefonica), UPC Phone, SmartCall (Virgin Media UK)) branch out to offer a full communications suite (text, voice, video calls), from fixed, mobile and WiFi, with free on-net calls.

6. TV Everywhere. Content on any screen, primarily VOD but live TV as well. Primarily in and around the home, but anwhere as well (Slingbox, Belkin's @TV).
7. Second screen. The tablet or smartphone functions as second screen, as social TV or as remote control.
8. Cloud. Content (and in TV Everywhere: the UI) moves into the cloud (Apple iCloud, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive etc.) and so can be consumed on any connected device/screen.

9. WiFi. This is where fixed and mobile networks meet, whether public (free or net), private (whether open or closed) or shared (MiFi, TriFi) hotspots. Backhaul network (fixed or mobile, or even satellite) is more or less irrelevant. Cable companies consider foregoing mobile and focus on WiFi instead.
10. LTE. This may be a fixed-line replacement. Not for the entire market, but the addressable market could still be interesting. See for instance Cota's TD-LTE in Spain.

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