Why include phone?

Written by Dane Jasper
September 9, 2010 | 3 min read

Recent news (SFGate) on landline phone service isn’t what most in the telecommunications industry would call good; nearly 30% of households no longer have landline home phone service. This is up from around 25% of homes that had cut the cord a year ago. Disconnections are accelerating, with 1% of consumers dropping their landline home phone service each quarter.

In addition, the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the US Centers for Disease Control reports that roughly 15% of those who do have home phone service make little or no use of it! (The NCHS/CDC tracks these stats so they can better understand telephone polling results for public health studies.)

So against this clear trend, why does our newest product, Fusion, include landline phone service?

There are a number of reasons, and I hope the sum of them is enough to make the case.

In designing Fusion, we hope to reset your expectations about both broadband and voice telephone service.

At the core, Americans are fed up with overinflated, complex phone bills. I don’t think customers want to drop home phone service, but everyone clearly wants to stop spending money on overpriced phone service that they make very little use of. In our customer surveys, we have found typical home phone bills in the $25 to $55 range. These bills are ridiculous, and not well justified by actual costs.

Costs are the key to the Fusion equation. Sonic.net uses copper “phone” lines to connect your home or business to our equipment in the central office for Fusion broadband. These lines themselves have the same cost whether they carry data only, or voice and data. This makes the incremental cost of delivering landline voice alongside the broadband data very low.

Second, we don’t use home phones the same way we used to. Most of us take the majority of our incoming calls on our mobile phones. (Note that CDC statistic above!) This makes landline phone service a prime target to terminate, particularly if it’s expensive.

But at the same time, this reduction in minutes of voice calling usage means a reduction in the usage related costs for carriers like us. The fact is that people use landline voice less than ever before, while per-minute usage costs are dropping for carriers. These complimentary trends allow for aggressive new thinking about what voice “should cost”.

These trends let us deliver voice with a difference; Fusion simply includes voice with unlimited nationwide calling for residential users, and for businesses, a simple $0.01 a minute for calls made nationwide.

At the right price, landline phone service is a convenient and useful tool. Landlines don’t drop calls like mobile phones often do, and the voice quality is better so you can really understand the person you are talking to. Landline service is also useful for fire and burglar alarm systems, medical alert systems, gates and call boxes and more. But I wouldn’t pay $35 for landline voice. Heck, I wouldn’t pay $15 for it, and nor should you!

Having a reliable landline at home also offers peace of mind. Reliable 911 service which provides physical address information to emergency responders is a key lifeline, and it’s awful that so many households do without because it has been overpriced. And because landline voice service is DC (direct current) powered from the central office, it works even when your household power is out.

If what I was trying to sell was the same old $25+ landline, I wouldn’t bother, it just doesn’t make any sense anymore. But fast and inexpensive Fusion Broadband+Phone delivers the fastest broadband plus included landline phone. I hope Fusion will help reverse the disconnection trend.