This all made the choice of our Leading Lights Awards finalists for Best New Service, Public Company, that much more difficult. What really are the services setting the pace for the rest of the industry?
The criteria were simple: We're looking to award the service provider that has deployed a market-leading, revenue-generating service based on next-generation telecommunications technology.
Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:
- AT&T Corp.'s (NYSE: T) CallVantage Service
We couldn't avoid having a VOIP service included in the finals. We just couldn't. The mere existence of VOIP has been giving wireline incumbents stomach acid for years, and now the service is finally catching on. Even better (or worse, depending on your view), VOIP could be a saving grace for battered long-distance carriers like AT&T (see Cable VOIP Could Boost IXCs).
In fact, AT&T's VOIP service is not only more impressive than most, it is much more important to the company's future than VOIP is for other large carriers. VOIP may salvage AT&T's brand in the consumer market (see Can AT&T Stand Alone?).
Since its launch in March, the CallVantage Service has been offering local, toll, long-distance, and international calling in 39 states and Washington, D.C. -- a total of 173 markets representing 62 percent of the households in America (see AT&T Sets Aggressive VOIP Target).
AT&T got this up and running so quickly because the company had already been busy investing to converge its networks to a single IP-based network. And, though Vonage Holdings Corp. is synonymous with VOIP these days, that company has felt the heat of AT&T's market entry. It sued Ma Bell in March, alleging that the service name, CallVantage, was picked in an effort to confuse customers who were seeking services from Vonage. This suit was dismissed a few months later.
- Cablevision Systems Corp.'s (NYSE: CVC) Optimum Triple Play
During Verizon Communications Inc.'s (NYSE: VZ) October earnings conference call, the company made it known that having a triple-play offer today does matter. "I would say that if you look across the region, we probably have two states that see the most reduction, which is in New York and New Jersey where we did see, you know, some impact from Cablevision," said Verizon's chief financial officer Doreen Toben.
For a starting price of about $90, Cablevision, the sixth largest MSO with about 3 million basic cable subscribers, offers folks in its serving area a true triple-play -- voice, video, and data all from the same network. Since the service was announced in June, the company has reported two quarters of consistent subscriber growth.
During the third quarter, Cablevision added 80,000 high-speed data subscribers, giving it a service penetration of about 28 percent of available homes. Its VOIP subscribers jumped 74,143 sequentially to 189,191, giving the company a VOIP penetration of 4.3 percent of its homes passed.
"CVC’s bundled promotions drove telephony outperformance, in our view," wrote CIBC World Markets analyst Cannon Carr. "The highlight for the quarter is that CVC’s bundling strategy drove strong subscriber growth across all services (video, HSD, and VOIP), with greater profitability than we had expected."
- Savvis Communications Corp.'s (Nasdaq: SVVS) Virtualized Services Delivery Platform
Savvis is one of the first companies to deliver on the much-hyped IT utility model, where companies only pay for resources they use. This should cut the cost of traditional outsourcing, and analysts say it will speed up the deployment time of new applications (see Savvis Gets Virtual).
The company acquired assets from third parties that failed, including Exodus and C&W America, to support its service, and it has already started to win some business in the lucrative, demanding financial services market. In August, for example, the company signed Innovest Systems on to the platform.
Because resources are virtualized, Savvis can help IT managers cut management costs while offering more resilience, higher availability, and some boffo disaster recovery. The model also allows Savvis to charge less for customization and consulting.
- Vodafone Group plc's (NYSE: VOD) 3G Service
There are two parts to Vodafone’s 3G service: data access using a laptop PC card and a 3G phone service for voice and mobile data applications. Both services run over the same wideband CDMA radio access network.
The data card delivers 384-kbit/s downstream and 64-kbit/s upstream, all over London and, we’re told, in other large U.K. and European cities (see Review: Vodafone's 3G Data Card). The phone service offers the same data rates, but comes packaged with features such as music download and video calling (see Vodafone 3G: Party On!).
What makes this 3G service so impressive, and sets Vodafone apart from other providers, is the scale of the launch, which occurred simultaneously across 13 countries. As the largest mobile phone operator in the world by revenue -- £16.8 billion (US$31 billion) for the six months ended November 2004 -- the impact of this new service on the telecom landscape will be huge. Your phone will seem more powerful than ever.
— The Staff, Light Reading