Verizon Gets it Right – “Bye Bye” Land Line Telephone

The FCC says US telephone companies have incurred a 26% increase in the cost of annual maintenance on traditional copper telephone lines over the past 5 years. Verizon makes 25% better margin on wireless phone than “land line” phones. FiOS is making it possible for Verizon to get into the high value video and cable television industry with a next-generation fiber optic infrastructure.

So why would anybody find Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s announcement at a Goldman Sachs investor conference that “his company is simply no longer concerned with telephones that are connected with wires” a surprise?

Bye Bye TelephoneWell, there are still many people on the street who believe copper “land Lines” offer better quality, security, and value. There are those who believe it is necessary to continue pumping money into technologies which are expensive to maintain, and offer little additional value to subscribers.

There are those who believe expansion of high performance wireless infrastructure such as LTE (long term evolution) and 4G (4th Generation Wireless) will not meet the needs of individual subscribers in both rural and urban areas.

Of course, they are wrong. Copper lines still fail, and are definitely location sensitive. A person with a heart condition will have a much better chance sending the alarm with a wireless device than a fixed line copper phone, so the more we dig into the copper argument the more it appears folks still are simply reluctant to embrace or endorse change. And change is needed in the United States.

We lag the industrialized world in broadband Internet deployments and availability. LTE/4G/FiOS all support and deliver broadband. Verizon is aggressively moving ahead on all broadband deployments. This includes broadband wireless to rural areas normally not available through either copper or in many cases cable television. In the United States (and most of the world) telephone users are either using low cost mobile phones, or using Internet phones (VoIP) on their home cable TV, or even in many cases wireless Internet connections.

So why is it surprising or concerning to anybody that Verizon is turning its back on their copper infrastructure, and focusing their capital and operational investments on a next-generation of technology? Is it better to spend more money maintaining old copper outside plant infrastructure, or is it better to spend that money reinforcing deployments of high performance wireless infrastructure and fiber optic FiOS technology?

Seidenberg added that “Video is going to be the core product in the fixed-line business.” Yes, thinking of a cable coming into your home as a “telephone line” is no longer an acceptable categorization. The telephone line is gone. Never to return. It is obsolete. We need to delete that from our mental SD chip, and reload with “Wired Humans Version 2.” Cables coming into the home and business are not for telephones, they are for the whole three dimensional concept of communications.

The answer for both the American consumer and for Verizon is clearly to reduce the operational expenses of supporting copper telephone lines, and start forcing the adoption of technologies that are better, cheaper, and offer much more service opportunity (such as high speed Internet access, video/cable TV, additional interactive communications services <such as video conferencing and video telephony>).

Americans need to applaud the courage of Mr. Seidenberg and Verizon to take this aggressive stand on new service and technology delivery.

John Savageau, Long Beach

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

5 Responses to Verizon Gets it Right – “Bye Bye” Land Line Telephone

  1. Marcus says:

    I guess I’m a little different from most people. First of all, I’m 64. Yes, I have a cell phone, which I use on occasion; but I am not going to have a cell phone growing out the side of my head, like most people I know. It will serve me, I will not serve IT. Also, I have a land line (with Verizon) and I’m quite ‘attached’ to it, thank you. I can’t imagine having doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, etc. calling me on a cell phone. Also, if you call 911 from a cell phone, your address doesn’t show up, as it does on a land line. Suppose you’re too ill or whatever to repeat your address? The quality of land lines is also better. I guess Verizon thinks it’s now safe to dump all its land line customers; we were loyal to you-but now you dump us! Way to go, Verizon-follow that money.

    • johnsavageau says:

      Marcus – thanks for the comment. Understand your concerns with quality and caller ID/location sensitive phones. However the quality is changing quickly with deployment of new technologies such as LTE (long term evolution) and 4G (4th generation mobile). I also firmly believe (and I am gaining on 60 myself) that having a mobile device with me wherever I go, and being able to access emergency services from virtually any location in the house, yard, car, or even while shopping is much safer than being tethered to a copper cable. GPS locators (which will be part of every mobile phone) can bring your location down to about a square meter. I still stand on my premise that our future is in wireless. Please feel free to object!

      john, Long Beach

      • John Z says:

        John, Has a cordless phone been invented that will act like a corded home phone? One that will have an answer machine that one can listen to from the sofa when a caller leaves a mesage?

      • johnsavageau says:

        Not sure if I fully understand the question, but the quick answer is of course. My mobile phone has voice mail, and a wireless phone acts the sames as a corded phone. Did I miss something?

  2. Marcus says:

    Well, John, you bring up some positive points. I carry my cell phone with me every time I leave the house. I do feel an extra measure of security. At the same time, I’m just not willing to part with the old service, though. If I’m watching TV, for instance, and the house phone rings, I keep an extra cordless phone with caller id right beside me. That way, I can just glance at the phone to see if I want to answer the call. If I don’t answer, I can stay right where I am, while my answering machine takes a message (which I can hear without getting up off the sofa). I just mute the TV for a few seconds. I know I’m spoiled, but I’m used to this convenience, and don’t want my land line yanked. I guess I have the best of both worlds, and don’t want to part with either.

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