This story from The Register is interesting or the last sentence is, “It will help counter fears that Voice over IP calls are draining revenue away from fixed-line provider”
The article suggests that Telco’s are thinking that, by converging mobile with fixed line telephony, they’ll be able to protect their market share and maintain their revenue source. It’s a pretty feeble attempt to try and hang on to something that is clearly going to decrease in size. As mobile bandwidth increases and network availability grows, subscribers are going to ditch their fixed lines in droves (and now with naked DSL, there’s no need for a fixed line for internet access either). I don’t think by converging fixed and mobile will stop the consumers moving to a purely mobile position.
It’s also interesting that Orange hasn’t joined (wasn’t invited, but they are owned by France Telecom) neither has vodafone. So it’s clear it’s the companies with the fixed telephony businesses driving the group. The Mobile networks aren’t interested, as they don’t see this as a threat to them in any way shape or form. It’s also interesting the none of the Telco’s that have mobile arms are in the group either (France Telecom or Deutsche Telecom)
I think a more interesting route for them to have taken is to develop an offering that uses GSM/3G when out and about and wi-fi when at home (or near a hotspot). That’s a much more risky situation for the Telco’s though, as it would be admitting that VOIP is cheaper than traditional fixed line telephony.
Convergence is good and it’s what we want, but it’s convergence of technologies that move us forward that we want not convergence of old and new.