Verizon quietly launched an IP voice product, FiOS Digital Voice, way back in December 2008. They’ve obviously been working to perfect it because today they’ve announced a dramatic expansion of its availability.
FiOS Digital Voice is now available in the FiOS markets of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania and California. In a swipe at its cable competitors, Verizon vice president for consumer product management and development Eric J. Bruno says, “Subscribers get more free calling features than cable, delivered with the trusted reliability of our advanced all-fiber network, and they get it all from a company with long-standing expertise in delivering superior phone service.”
FiOS Digital Voice follows a similar strategy being offered by AT&T with their U-verse Voice product. They are both trying to match the feature rich IP voice products that their cable competitors are having great success with, usually at the phone company’s expense.
These IP voice products offer a variety of new features and in effect, allows phone companies to relaunch or refresh the plain old telephone service (POTS), that quite frankly, many customers are bored with. It’s an easier decision to ditch a legacy service like POTS, when something perceived as new, different, and feature rich (and in some cases, cheaper) comes along. Cable has been able to do that, in effect beating large phone companies at their own voice game.
FiOS Digital Voice, and products like it, are phone company’s response. Early indications suggest the IP Voice strategy may be working. Both AT&T and SureWest have seen decent success with their IP Voice products, particularly at migrating potential POTS ‘cord cutters’ to their IP voice product. It’s not going to erase, or even stop, wireline erosion. But it appears it does slow it down, and more importantly, positively contributes to ARPU.