Friday, February 27, 2004

Naked DSL

Here's a novel concept: take the line that is carrying a service that no one wants along with high-speed Internet that everyone wants, get rid of the part no one wants, and charge more for the Internet. Sound like broadband cable? Sure does. You probably get the advertisements from Comcast or your cable provider every month advertising cable Internet service for around $60 if you are a non-cable TV subscriber or around $40 if you also have cable tv.

According to an article on Business Week, Qwest will finally start selling what is termed "naked DSL," or DSL-only service over a phone line (i.e., no dial tone service required). The interesting thing is how long it took them to be willing to change their business model to be willing or able to do this -- I would think that the second it really started working for cable, DSL providers would have immediately copied it.

Now that cable is the more dominant force in high speed Internet service to the home, expect to see fairly aggressive introductory pricing from Qwest and other DSL providers who adopt the same philosophy. One thing that has to be a little scary for the DSL provider would be companies like Vonage (see my earlier post on Vonage. Imagine paying around $50 for your naked DSL service. You then sign up with Vonage for $15 per month and get a dial tone that operates over high-speed broadband. Effectively, you have just "cheated" the phone company out of $20 in monthly service fees (dial tone service from the phone company being estimated at $35 per month), not to mention the fact that your $15 to Vonage include 500 minutes of long distance service.

One edge for DSL companies in the high speed war is the fact that so many of them either have or are affiliated with a cellular phone company and/or a wireless hotspot company. The advantage, obviously, would be to bundle home high-speed with cellular and wireless (or at the very least provide % discounts on cellular and wireless services).

After all is said and done, what is voice really on a digital network? It's simply a bunch of ones and zeroes, same as any other piece of data. The new Qwest/Verizon/BellSouth = your local data (not phone) company . . . if they can manage to think of it that way.

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