"Walmart Crushes AOL and adds WiMAX, WiFi, VoIP." Sounds like a great breaking news story doesn't it? Well, unfortunately right now it's merely "hypothetical".
skibare brought an idea to my attention that Walmart could buy Vonage or some other VoIP broadband service provider, sitck some WiMAX equipment on all of their roofs and start selling VoIP over WiMAX. The thought actually crossed my mind as well 2 years ago but with long-distance WiFi not WiMAX, but I'll give skibare credit for this one.
skibare wrote: "think of the DEMOGRAPHICS and Synergies of WALMART and HIGH SPEEED wifi/WiMax/VOIP -- all in one everything Walmart............think of the DEMOGRAPHICS of how many stores, how many shoppers, how many POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS hit their front door every day. its like 20 Million a DAY every day........."
Let me expound his idea a little further. Walmart certainly does own A LOT of real estate with buildings EVERYWHERE in the country. I think the Walmart rooftops could be a very HOT and precious commodity similar to the Central Office (CO) - perhaps going to the highest bidder or perhaps Walmart will keep it for themselves. I bet 90% of the U.S. population is within 25 miles of a Walmart - well within the range of WiMAX.
Walmart could not only provide VoIP over WiMAX - they could become the next Internet Service Provider (ISP) that takes down that titan known as American Online (AOL).
Forget Triple Play! Imagine the bundling deals Walmart could do! They could offer Internet connectivity, broadband TV/video, online coupons, and more. In theory, they could have their own special web browser that pops up with specials going on at the local Walmart. i.e. "If you leave in the next 30 minutes, and go to the Norwalk Walmart you can purchase a new Toro XYZ lawnmower for just $99.99!"
Heck, they can even offer the first year of WiMAX Internet connectivity for free just to build up the base and then start charging. Actually, I have a prediction to make. Soon there will be virtually no profit in just a plain dumb bandwidth pipe - it will be about the enhanced services such as voice, video/TV, wireless access, etc. ISPs and especially broadband bandwidth providers will be so competitive -- just like the VoIP players today -- that they will offer bandwidth for free and then charge you for services. So if my "FREE broadband Internet prediction" is correct, soon broadband Internet access will follow in the footsteps of the recent "VoIP price wars" which are causing VoIP prices to inch closer and closer to free. It's a fun time we are living in...