By 2016, U.S. household voice penetration will be about 52 percent, according to Pyramid Research. And that will be the highest penetration rate in the world.

In the Asia Pacific region fixed-line voice will be used by 24 percent of households.

In Western Europe, 21 percent of households will have a voice line. Revenue, on the other hand, will grow, in aggregate, on the strength of broadband access services.

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“According to our estimates, global narrowband line penetration of households decreased from 45 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2011, and it will decline to 27 percent by 2016,” says Sylwia Boguszewska, Pyramid Research senior analyst.

Fixed services in every region are losing ground fast to mobile services, with mobile data capturing an increasingly substantial share of total telecom revenue, she says.

In 2007, U.S. voice penetration was about 97 percent of households, and seems to have peaked about 2000.

So penetration will have fallen in about a decade and a half. Those sorts of changes seem to be more common these days, as the volatility of the business reaches new heights.

Nor would that be the first such change, at about that time frame. In 1997 long distance revenue represented about half of fixed line network revenue in the U.S. fixed-line market.

By 2007 long distance had fallen by half. At the same time, and over the same time period, mobile services had grown to represent half of industry revenue.

And it is revenue, more than service penetration or usage, that seems to be important. Pyramid Research also suggests that fixed line revenue will be stable, or even grow slightly, as penetration falls.

That will be due in part to new revenue sources such as video entertainment, one might argue, and higher spending for broadband access and related products.


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