Texts touted as landline saviour

Being able to send text messages from fixed-line phones will help traditional telecommunications firms fight back, says a consultancy firm

Emulating mobile phone functionality could save fixed-line telephony markets, according to international consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, citing SMS and MMS features.

Frost & Sullivan maintains that though fixed-line SMS is unlikely to be a killer application, "it does mark a positive fight back by fixed-line operators."

"At present, fixed SMS has developed impressively into a niche service with optimistic growth indicators," stated Frost & Sullivan in a release issued today.

The consultancy estimates fixed-line SMS traffic will grow between 15 and 20 percent per month, with a similar increase in subscriber numbers.

According to Frost & Sullivan, Western Europe has three million to five million active fixed-line SMS subscribers, with the majority of subscribers sending two to three messages per month.

Nathan Budd, associate ICT consultant for Frost & Sullivan, says widespread global adoption of the technology will rely heavily on smart marketing techniques.

"The realisation of attractive revenues for both services relies on the fixed (and indeed mobile) operators' ability to define a set of unique service offerings and value propositions for the most appropriate target segments," he said.

Budd adds that premium-rate voting and application-based fixed SMS services have already been successfully deployed, and as growth continues the service may come to represent a "significant proportion" (20 to 30 percent) of fixed-line revenues in the next three to four years.

The research dictated trends in the commercial availability of SMS enabled devices, with Frost & Sullivan predicting an increase in SMS market revenue in the from about 14m euros (£9.4m) in 2003 to nearly 470m euros in 2008.

According to Frost & Sullivan, fixed-line MMS services will follow in the success of fixed-line SMS, with telcos in Italy and Germany already offering the service.

"Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom have already deployed fixed MMS services at the start of this year, with other European incumbent and alternative operators accelerating plans to utilise MMS technology in the fixed environment," stated the release.

Frost & Sullivan estimate that MMS market revenues may reach over 600m euros by 2009, with a potential to generate more.

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