(Image source: iStockPhoto)
with Sian Morgan, Senior Director, Telephony & Multimedia Networks, Videotron
To some industry observers, wireline voice is about as relevant today as two cans tied with a string. That's not the case for Sian Morgan, senior director of telephony and multimedia networks for Canadian cable operator Videotron, who puts wireline voice on equal footing with the other legs of Videotron's quad play--video, high-speed data and mobile. She offered up some thoughts as to where the service, which only launched in 2004, is going, during a talk with Fierce editor Jim Barthold at the recent GENBAND Perspectives13 conference.
FierceTelecom: Videotron has been in video since way back in the day but you're coming into a voice market where Bell Canada is dominant. What's that like?
Sian Morgan: In some markets we're the first (wireline voice provider) according to our calculations, and we're still seeing growth in that area. In the end, it's a real customer service to support the relationship you have with your customer.
FierceTelecom: Is there really a place for a wireline voice service or is this about as exciting as a dial tone?
Morgan: Fixed line is the service that we have that has the highest customer satisfaction, and we're still seeing some growth in that area. For sure, we're looking at a future where we see some cord cutting. We run our own mobile network, so we see a lot of subscribers dropping their fixed lines for our mobile lines. But in the short term we have a lot of customers that are looking at fixed line and we put a lot of effort into making sure it has the 5-9s reliability and it's running well.
FierceTelecom: Obviously people want more than just a string between two tin cans, to put it crudely. What do you offer your fixed line subscribers?
Morgan: We're a quad play operator, so most of our subscribers have way more than voice. Fixed line is one of the services we're providing to emphasize the video and the Internet and the wireless. A lot of people like their fixed line for the reliability or that it runs their alarms systems or they just like the safety of it. We have a really recognizable brand in Quebec, so I don't think our customers see technology; they see brand and they see customer service. After that, as long as it works and it's reliable, I think that's what's important to them. We're seen as innovative. The technology behind it is not foremost on their minds.
FierceTelecom: You mentioned that some of your cord cutters might actually be moving over to your wireless service. Just having a wireless leg is something different than most, if not all, U.S. cable operators. How's that going?
Morgan: Wireless is a different ballgame. We're one of the few MSOs that have actually launched a wireless network and it's going well. We've seen a huge growth. We're over 400,000 lines and growing.
FierceTelecom: Is or will LTE become part of the play?
Morgan: For sure LTE makes a difference, there's no doubt. We're looking at it but we haven't announced anything yet.
FierceTelecom: As with wireline, it's not enough to just offer wireless voice. What else does Videotron bring to the space to compete with the likes of Rogers, Bell and Telus?
Morgan: We have a really strong data offering on wireless with our own TV offering. Data consumption is key, but voice is table stakes. You can't sell a phone without voice. After that the value and the perception of the user is in the data, for sure, the television and all the data. In our offering area we have a mobile TV offering where you get access to that in our territory. Looking at some of the new Samsung devices that are out there with the HD screens, the quality is really impressive. You can see the hockey pucks.
FierceTelecom: Are you going to follow your U.S. counterparts and build out Wi-Fi hotspots?
Morgan: We have our own network so we have coverage everywhere. We haven't seen the benefit of doing that, really. Our (mobile) quality is great.