Colleges and VoIP

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Colleges and VoIP

Rich linked to my 2005 VoIP Predictions and pointed out my "Colleges Ramp up VoIP" prediction in particular. Well, ironically as he was blogging that, I came across something else that speaks of colleges and VoIP.

From a Reuters article:
For years, Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q.N: Quote, Profile, Research) has braced for the start of school in Boulder, Colorado, where 30,000 college students would sign up for telephone service when they returned from summer break.

But this past September, Qwest not only saw no increase, but actually lost lines in Boulder.

"The students who came back said ... 'We don't need a telephone line. We all have cell phones,'" Qwest Chief Executive Richard Notebaert said in a recent speech. "You can see the migration happening, and it is reality."

No question cell phones certainly have had an impact on landlines in colleges, but I think VoIP is also already having an impact on college landline deployments as well. Thousands if not millions of college students use Skype. With broadband high-speed in just about every major campus, VoIP service providers such as Vonage, or AT&T CallVantage have fertile ground to steal even more ye scurvy landlubbers! (landlinelubbers?)

The article does hint at the impact of VoIP, by stating, "Analysts estimate the Bells lost roughly 7 million, or about 4 percent, of their lines in 2004. While customers replaced many of those lines with cellular phones, a small number switched to cable operators or independent companies offering Internet-based telephone service."

The article goes on to state that VoIP services had about 1 million subscribers at the end of 2004, but is poised to at least double that total this year.

You want to know the real "kiss of death" for campus landlines? When carriers and service providers get smart about their "bundling" packages. Already some cell phone companies are offering "family plans" where you get multiple cellphones at a discounted rate and all under one plan. But if they ever get smart, they could take it one step further.

For instance, imagine if AT&T (which bought Cingular Wireless) offered you an "Ultimate Family Package" that included 3 cell phones, high-speed DSL/broadband, IPTV, and two VoIP phone numbers, along with two Analog Telephony Adaptors (ATAs) - one for the home and one for the road.

Just give your son or daughter one of these ATAs when they head off to college and they won't have to use the college campus's landlines (or they could use a SIP phone or SIP softclient). Further, just think of the advanced calling features you can do. You can do "follow me" from your VoIP number to your cellphone. While there are solutions that do this today, the advantage of doing all of this on "one network" is that AT&T can save a lot of money by routing all of your AT&T calls - cellphone or VoIP - on the same IP backbone network. Since they save themselves money on the call, they can pass along the savings by offering discounts to their customers and woo them away from competitors.

I've just touched the tip of the iceberg of what a combined broadband/IPTV/VoIP/cellphone package (a form of Triple Play) can offer. I'm sure there are dozens of other creative and unique features that such as solution could offer. We may be talking Octuple Play before all is said and done!

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