In order to generate demand for broadband,
consumers must not only be aware of and able to afford broadband, but they must
also see the relevance and attractiveness of it. This is facilitated by ensuring
that the market provides sufficient choice and diversity of services, applications,
and content to appeal to all consumers. Actions to boost broadband demand are generally
aimed at both consumers and businesses to encourage them to produce content, services,
and applications (Battisti n.d.). This section makes a distinction between services
and applications, but this distinction is becoming blurred as technologies develop
and services and applications begin to overlap and merge, as noted in chapter 1.
While it may be arguable whether something is more appropriately classified as an
“application” or a “service,” for this chapter the particular category is less important
than the fact that attractive services and applications both significantly increase
Voice telephony continues to be a popular
service, although it represents a declining share of revenue for public telecommunication
operators. A growing number of broadband operators offer voice over broadband (VoB)
service, which is a managed service (unlike Voice over Internet Protocol, VoIP,
which is generally considered as an application running “over the top” of the public
internet, and not directly managed by the network operator). VoB provides the same
quality as a traditional fixed telephone and often provides other value added features
such as call waiting, voice mail, and speed dialing as well as the ability for users
to monitor these features online via the provider’s website. The price structure
for VoB is often made attractive by including unlimited national calls for a flat
rate or even including free national calls with the broadband service subscription.
Since the service works through the broadband modem, users do not need to be connected
to the Internet and do not even need a separate Internet subscription.
Several regulatory issues are related to VoB. The most basic is whether or not a
country’s laws and regulations allow it. Where VoB is legal, other regulatory considerations
are often driven by the requirements placed on legacy wireline telephone networks.
One is the requirement for users to be able to make emergency calls. Other regulatory
requirements relating to consumers can include access for persons with disabilities
and number portability.*
The latter can be influential in encouraging users to switch from traditional telephone
services to VoB.