March 16, 2004

VOIP is finally taking off. Vonage is getting pretty good buzz, and I've been considering it myself. But I'd have to route Vonage through my cable modem, and I'll never trust my local cable co. enough to depend on them absolutely for phone service. If you've ever waited for cable service repair, you know why you wouldn't want to run 911 calls over that dirty pipe.

So I'd get Vonage if I could keep my landline just in case, but that negates the value of getting Vonage, since minimal service on Verizon is still >$20/month.

Which is why, in a few years, a lot of Americans will need some kind of "lifeline" copper-wire telephony. Something for 911, something for Tivo, for alarm systems, that kind of thing. I'd pay $5/month for a service I don't intend to use, but might need to. If the line is never used, that's more or less pure profit, and if it is used, anyone could just charge premium rates for that use.

So somewhere there's room for a NanoBell. A phone company for the long shadow that twisted copper will still cast, long after it has any day-to-day use.

Posted by kevin slavin at March 16, 2004 01:04 AM

Somewhere between poltergeists and plain-old telephone service is USDTV. They're going to broadcast HDTV pay channels like ESPN over UHF and VHF.

So as the cable and satellite industries have made terrestrial brodacast towers obsolete, a smaller company has snapped up the rights to broadcast signals over them on the cheap. And, because all the broadcasters had to upgrade to HDTV, it's HDTV-ready.

That's the right way to do it. The wrong way is Disney's MovieBeam, which is a hard drive reloaded with content from the same towers. But it requires more boxes, not fewer. And it has only Disney movies on it. And it has a monthly fee. And it needs a phone line.

Posted by: cubemate on March 17, 2004 10:55 AM
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