Why Would You Want FiOS® Digital Voice?
FiOS® (Fiber Optic Service) is a suite of digital services offered by Verizon in select markets throughout the United States. This suite consists of FiOS Internet, FiOS TV, and FiOS Digital Voice telephone services.
FiOS differs from previous attempts at consumer fiber optic services, because Verizon is delivering fiber connections directly to the residence. Previously, various service providers, including Verizon, offered fiber connections to the curb (FTTC), and the customer still relied on copper wiring from the curb to their residence. Since FiOS is a purely fiber optic service, customers will receive much higher data transmission rates, which will allow high speed internet, telephone, and television transmissions all travel over the same connection simultaneously without degradation.
The major telecommunications providers have been losing enormous market share to cellular, voice over IP (VoIP), and digital phone service packages from the cable companies. For decades, the major telecoms failed to innovate, and there was very little price competition, because the customers had no alternatives. The intense competition in the cellular phone market led to wireless companies lowering their prices while offering a wide array of services to subscribers. With more minutes, long distance, caller id, and call waiting, the average customer no longer needed their copper wire (landline) telephone services. Combine the timing of this with increased competition from residential VoIP services like Vonage and the increasing pressure from the major cable company digital phone offerings, and the telecoms were hemorrhaging subscribers. FiOS services, namely Digital Voice, will help the telecoms reverse that trend, and become substantial players in the digital voice, internet, and telephony markets again. FiOS Digital Voice is the beginning of a new wave of telephone services.
Greater Competition in the Telecom Market
The introduction of residential fiber optic services will lead to intense competition in the telecom market. Right now, in most major American markets, the average customer can choose from several telephone solutions, and multiple providers in their market. Whenever a new provider enters a market with substantial competition, it helps to force the price down for all similar services. When you think about it, your local cellular carriers are constantly trying to undercut each other and provide their services at a lower price. Since the lines between cellular, cable, copper wire, and fiber optic services are blurred, expect lower prices and better bundles across the board. FiOS Digital Voice will compete directly with Digital Telephone services from cable providers, and will be available in bundles from Verizon to compete directly with packages from Time Warner, Cablevision, Comcast, Brighthouse, and the other regional cable companies.
More Features for Less
Since the wireless companies started giving away advanced telephone services, such as caller id, call waiting, three-way calling, voicemail, long distance, and call forwarding, their competition has been forced to offer these services for free as well. Most VoIP customers using Vonage and its competitors also received these services for free, while the cable companies have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to provide the same level of services for free. Verizon is offering all of the standard services, but they are also offering the following services, which their competition may not provide:
- Locate Me – This service will search for the call recipient by ringing each of three numbers of their choosing, one by one.
- Simultaneous Ring – This service will ring three numbers of the callers choosing simultaneously.
- Do Not Disturb – This service sends all calls to voicemail, with the exception of calls from specific numbers designated by the recipient. This way, calls from friends, family, or work will still be able to get through.
- Free In-Network Calling – You can call your friends and family that have specific Verizon services for no additional fee.
- Voicemail with Email Notification – When you receive a voicemail, you will also receive an email notification.
- Virtual Numbers – You can have multiple numbers that ring to your home phone without having to pay for additional lines. You can even choose the area codes for the additional numbers.
- Distinctive Ring – You can assign distinctive rings to your virtual numbers to differentiate the incoming calls.
- Schedule Call – You can schedule certain calls to happen automatically so you will not forget them. This is especially useful for recurring conference calls.
- Phonebook with Synchronization/Import/Export to Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and Palm – You can manage your Digital Voice phonebook online, and synchronize it with your personal digital addressbook.
- Calendar – Online calendars that will help you keep up with appointments, and schedule your activities.
Regardless of whether or not these services come at additional cost, they will be of great value to customers, because they will have additional control of when, where, and how they receive their phone calls. All of these features can be managed online, so you will be able to access them anywhere you have internet access.
Bundled Services from a Trusted Company
Perhaps the most attractive feature of FiOS Digital Voice is that it can be bundled with internet and television services through Verizon. The customer will get a significant discount by bundling their services, and they will only have one point of contact for service, billing, and technical issues with their voice, internet, and television services. Verizon will take the time during their installation to help the customer choose the best spot to set up their equipment, and train the customer to use it.
Bridging the Digital Divide
Verizon’s FiOS could provide digital television, voice, and internet to places where these services have not been established. If Verizon chooses to bring FiOS services to parts of the U.S. that still do not have any digital infrastructure, this will further help to bridge the digital divide. There are vast areas of the country that do not have digital services right now, and the increased competition in the television, telephone, and internet markets will drive providers to these areas.
Future Integrated Services
As FiOS Digital Voice becomes more widespread, the customers may have greater influence on the development of its feature set. Since the FiOS services are so closely integrated, and Verizon has an enormous Wireless division, you can expect the interconnectivity among the systems to yield more features. At some point in the future, Verizon may choose to integrate more Wireless and Digital Voice functionality, or provide additional advanced features to people who subscribe to multiple services.
There are a multitude of reasons why anyone would want FiOS Digital Voice, but in our current economy, cost and competition will likely be the driving force behind consumer choices. Even if FiOS is not competitively priced when it is first introduced, it will have to prove that it can compete with the existing services. FiOS Digital Voice has enormous potential due to the technology behind it, and Verizon support for it.