Is Wireless/Wireline Convergence A Step Backwards?
By Mike Masnick, Wed Apr 13 01:45:00 GMT 2005

With new hype being focused on wireless/wireline phone convergence, it's reasonable to ask if people really want such a solution.

After an extensive delay, BT is finally getting ready to launch its Bluephone converged wireline/wireless device -- but it's still not clear if the demand is really there. Despite many of the stories about the Bluephone, the benefit of the Bluephone is still quite cloudy. Many reports suggest that it converges a mobile phone with a landline, but it might not really connect with a landline. Much of the press coverage seems carefully worded, to note that it converges a typical mobile phone with a local network -- not the local phone network. In other words, it sounds like you're still using the cellular connection, but there's a Bluetooth (and eventually WiFi) connection in between. This seems to have very little benefit to end-users, as it's really just a signal booster.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Cingular's own attempt at wireless/wireline convergence doesn't seem to be winning any ringing endorsements either. In fact, Cingular is thinking about discontinuing its FastForward convergence offering, which lets subscribers (for a flat $3/month) dock their mobile phones in a charging cradle that will automatically forward all mobile calls to a landline.

So why are these wireline/wireless convergence offerings slow to catch on? Perhaps a good part of the reason is that there really isn't a huge benefit to them. For early adopters -- the people most likely to be interested in any kind of "new" convergence offering -- these convergence offerings take them back a step. Many have already cut the cord at home, realizing they just don't need a landline any more. A growing number are also replacing their office phones with mobile phones, believing it's just easier to keep one phone. For the people who have made that kind of leap, there's really no clear benefit to then converging a mobile phone and a landline. It almost seems like a backwards step, bringing a landline back into their lives.