ChangeWave Research - What's Coming

I've been part of the ChangeWave Alliance for about two years, and they publish occasional research on telecom trends. The research is member-based, and for this study 625 alliance members participated in a survey conducted in late July 2005.

This particular survey is mainly about trends and which technologies people believe will be the most important to follow. As such, the findings are based more on opinion than fact. That said, 625 people closely following and investing in this industry should represent a fairly credible response base.

I'm not authorized to distribute all the results, but I just thought I'd share some high level findings. Much of this isn't news, but the research is another point of validation for some of the important trends to watch in 2006.

Cell Phone growth is more about video and data than voice. They cite TV, VOD and MP3 as the strong drivers for what consumers want on their cell phones.

Triple Play is really going to be about mobility. They posit that the real Triple Play is WiFi, IPTV and VoIP - not what conventional wisdom dictates - voice, data and video. The implication is that the MSOs stand to lose out big time unless they find a way to integrate mobility into their mix.

Third party mobile payment services will flourish. This will be a necessity to support these mobile growth scenarios, and third party services will really open up the market to all kinds of micro-payment goods and services. Wireless carriers could realize new revenue streams by charging for bandwidth, and the credit card operators like Visa could quickly find their way into this market.

BPL will help bring broadband to rural America. The research notes that 20% of U.S. homes cannot get broadband, and power line is the "logical solution". Nothing new there, but BPL could play a key role in helping the U.S. catch up with the rest of the world for broadband adoption.

RBOC's path to IP is happening in stages and will take time. Again, nothing new, but the research shows that nobody holds all the cards right now. The basic conclusion is that the RBOCs and MSOs will jointly rule when all the smoke clears, but each its own challenges. Cable may have better broadband capacity now, but they lack the mobility piece, which is huge. The RBOCs have more pieces in place, but can only do limited Triple Play. For now, it will be over copper. To get really good IPTV, though, VDSL2 is the way to go, but we're not there yet. This is when the market will really start to work for Microsoft. But for long term survival against cable, FTTH will be the solution, but that's at least 2 years out.