Verizon is set to launch FiOS Digital Voice in early 2009. The FiOS voice service is an IP voice product and will be bundled with FiOS TV and Internet. Verizon joins AT&T, who has a similar strategy with U-verse voice. Both services aim to add next generation features to traditional phone service, including find me/follow me services, simultaneous ring, call management web portals, click-to-dial, and networked address books. Multichannel News has more details.
The move is illustrative of the transition to IP and the formidable cable threat. Cable has enjoyed much success in eating their telco competitor’s voice access line “lunch.” They’ve proved to be more innovative with the consumer voice product and continue to take significant market share. Telecom carriers have been slow to react. Either caught off guard or distracted with more sexy stuff like wireless and video. All telcos would do well to pay attention now though – especially smaller wireline carriers who do not have the luxury of multi-billion dollar wireless divisions that lessen the pain of an eroding wireline base. For them, wireline still remains their “bread and butter.” All wireline voice carriers should consider “refreshing” or “relaunching” local service, and include innovative and value added features. Otherwise they risk continued marginalization and face losing what “butters their bread.”