Wireline and wireless: Time to kiss and make-up


It's a dirty little secret that isn't really a dirty little secret anymore, but observers of Bellhead behavioral psychology (your's truly included) like to note how in large telcos with both wireline and wireless units, the wireline guys hate the wireless folks and vice versa.

This still may be true to some extent. At FierceMarkets' recent IMS Executive Summit in Washington, D.C., I was talking to an attendee who formerly worked on the wireless side of a Bell company before moving on to the vendor world. Asked if IMS could be an agent that helps unify these traditionally miles-apart organizations, he said, "I hope so," before adding, "Boy, we used to hate those [wireline] guys. We could never get anything done with them."

If anything, the wireline and wireless people in these companies should be drawing a little more inspiration from one another these days, and might want to start getting downright friendly. That's because fixed-mobile convergence is probably the top technology trend that folks on the wireline side of the industry need to come to grips with over the next two years. Those telcos with wireless units in house should be spending every waking moment getting those two sides to work together to understand technology, market opportunities, enterprise and consumer user behavior and usage patterns. They should develop a comprehensive corporate strategy the ends the sibling rivalry once and for all.

Meanwhile, video is the hottest application for both sides of the house, and I'm betting that here, too, wireline and wireless teams could work together to develop some interesting applications and functions that leverage TV and mobile phone devices in ways no one has thought of yet. Mobile TV is great and so is IPTV. How can we talk about fixed-mobile convergence and not presume it could affect entertainment content, too?

I don't know if any wireline folks will be attending CTIA I.T. and Entertainment in San Francisco, but it wouldn't hurt to consider it as an opportunity to energize your imagination for what telcos could be capable of in the future. Meanwhile, folks from the wireless side of the house who surely will be in attendance should think seriously about bringing home some information to share with your neighbor over the corporate fence. You might find out he's not such a bad guy after all. --Dan

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