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End of the fixed line as mobiles rule the world

01 December 2004

You know it, but if you're in the fixed-line business you hardly dare admit it. People are dropping their fixed phone lines and just using their mobiles. It's even happening at work — in Nokia, anyway. Geoff Nairn looks at this growing trend

It started as a dinner-party anecdote but now it is a full-blown market trend. More and more people have largely abandoned the traditional fixed-line phone in favour of their mobile phone to stay in touch.

This trend, called fixed-mobile substitution, is great news for the mobile operators, but it potentially threatens the very existence of fixed-line incumbents that cannot adapt. "It may take ten years or it may take 15 years, but the PSTN will vanish," says Mikko J Salminen, Nokia's director of fixed-mobile substitution.

Nokia has a vested interest in hastening the decline of fixed-line telephony, of course. But independent analysts are equally pessimistic.

Bleak prospects

"The prospects for traditional voice telephony look bleak," says Katja Ruud of the Gartner Group.

According to Forrester Research, calls from fixed phones to local and national phone numbers have been declining year-on-year in the UK since 1999. The analyst says fixed...