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Paris: IEC Broadband World Forum Best Show of the Year
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 17:08
The top people from the telcos come, so the top people from the companies follow and that virtuous circle brings makes this the best fiber and DSL show of the year. IEC plays it straight, looking for good speakers rather than overloading the sessions with sales pitches, although some of that is unavoidable. Some highlights:
  • Fiber: Will it be GPON or GEPON? Ask Niel Ransom, now Chairman of GEPON chipmaker Teknovus. As CTO of Alcatel, he led the effort for GPON that dominates the West. Then check out the active Ethernet Xavier Niel is running through the sewers of Paris, possibly a better choice than either.
  • Powerline Home Networks: Europeans are happy woth powerline distribution of HD TV, but Rob Ranck's results should be a revelation for North America.
  • Open Networks, APIs, and Web 2.0: Stephan Hadinger of Orange is leading this one
  • Feeling impish? Ask Phil Winterbottom whether Plan 9 is influencing his choices as CTO at Ericsson.  Ask Didier Lombard, CEO of France Telecom, whether he's putting his company's investment in France or Africa. Question Simon Saunders of the Femto Forum about when the tech problems will be solved and major carriers deploying millions. (Might be soon.) Jeremy Steventon-Barnes at BT might explain the serious delays in 21CN, which on paper was one of the best networks in the world. Don Bowman of Sandvine won't want to explain why DSL and cablecos in North America are cutting back on traffic management, but fortunately Sandvine products have many other uses and the wireless guys love them.
Please say hello to the round fellow with a beard. Wednesday, September 2, the irrepressible Jennie Bourne and I will arrive in Paris, and hope to meet many of you. From Wednesday dinner through Sunday, we are unscheduled. Monday until Wednesday dinner I'll be at IEC's Broadband World Forum, always one of the best events of the year, and meeting with the ASSIA folk, who are bringing me over. Thursday September 10 is also free, although Jennie will have flown back to teach her NYU class. I hope to visit the Paris sewers to see the fiber and some labs. I'd love to make make other meetings happen at parks, galleries, or the like rather than the usual offices.

See you there?
 
Hong Lu Resigns UTStarcom Chair
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 16:29
Hong_LuHong, one of the most thoughtful and gracious in our industry, resigned as chairman of the company he founded, UTStarcom.The company rose to $billions in value on the strength of the PHS "cell-phone-lite" systems for China. Very similar to an extended cordless phone, the Xiaolingtong was extremely inexpensive and easy to deploy. China Telecom and China Netcom, which did not have ordinary mobile licenses, deplyed 100M units. As mobile phone prices came down and the Chinese landline companies received licenses, Xiaolingtong use fell, as have sales at UTStarcom and the stock price. There were hard times, with layoffs, SEC investigations, and apparent bribes to win contracts.

Hong had met Masayoshi Son of Softbank when both were graduate students at Berkeley. Son provided much of the early funding and his Yahoo BB bought millions of DSLAM prots from UTStarcom. They found additional customers in India and have expanded into IPTV in India and Shanghai.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:36
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Philippines: Powerline's New Frontier?
Sunday, 12 July 2009 20:51
Powerline mostly works, but has gone nowhere because the business case for an additional broadband network usually fails. Manila Electric's trial therefore is interesting, because their shareholders include PLDT and the very aggressive San Miguel corporation. Donnabelle Gatdula thinks their Manila Electric subsidiary Miescor will has the necessary skillby_san_miguels and that smart grid/metering will pay part of the cost.

Stagg Newman was the first to teach me why the third entrant in broadband usually will fail. Anyone entering today has to face a telco and often a cableco with facilities in place and a substantial number of customers. Consider the situation of a new entrant. Broadband networks are expensive to build and require a large investment before revenue. Customer acquistion is also costly, meaning a customer is cash flow negative for a year or three. So even a broadband network in virgin territory faces initial years of losses.

Today, 60-80% of the homes in the developed world take broadband and incremental customers are much fewer. That means a new entrant needs to persuade a customer to switch from their current carrier. Overcoming inertia to win a switcher is especially expensive customer acquisition, raising costs even more. There are perhaps 10% unhappy with the current provider and not too hard to switch, so almost all second networks - like AT&T IPTV in cable territory, get some quick switchers. But with two networks, most of those who want to switch already have and are satisfied with one of the choices.

During the initial money-losing years, likely 4-7 even if successful, the incumbent has a massive cost advantage per customer,

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 21:11
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Schneider's Conclusions: WiMAX Chokes Soon, DOCSIS 160/40 in Trouble by 2015
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 00:16
Mr. Kevin Schneider went to DC to let them know major increases in DSL speed are really cheap (DSM,) doubling is inexpensive (bonding, < $100,) and further increases, mrsmithbeyond 300 meg on 2 pair (short distance, fully vectored DSM) are likely in the next few years. He also took sensible projections of demand for bandwidth in 4-8 years and translated that into what each home would need. From that data, Schneider believes download averages will range from 50 kilobits/second/home in 2007 to 150K in 2012. Working from there, he concludes WiMAX/LTE won't work as a primary home network in a few years because it's shared. If many families want video over the net, wireless will choke. The current cable deployments of 155/35 shared will also have problems by 2015 or so because of video demand, but I think cable will upgrade well before that in most places. The Adtran papers and presentation for the FCC are excellent descriptions of today's DSL networks for a technical reader.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:25
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Two Copps phone calls = 500,000 fewer unserved
Monday, 22 June 2009 15:58
adelstein_copps_south_dakota_school_of_mines-technology_panelMichael Copps (second from right) can make two phone calls and make DSL available to 500,000 more homes. The first is to fellow Commissioner Adelstein (middle,) to make sure he has the votes. The second is to Glen Post of Century Tel, who will make $millions if his merger with Embarq is approved. He's a businessman who will find a way to say yes to the Chairman's request, despite his lawyers' objections. Adelstein simply needs to ask “Can we do something meaningful for the CenturyLink unserved?” If Adelstein's vote isn't assured, Post will have little choice.

Post will agree because it won't cost that much to offer more DSL. Only a small fraction of the nearly 1M Century/Embarq homes that can't get DSL actually are so distant the costs are prohibitive. Below, a story on how rural carrier Madison River reached 99% in 2006, just before they became part of Century. 99% might be tough, but going from the current 87% to 95%-96% in practical and affordable.

CenturyLink could easily reach almost all of those homes simply by restoring the $237M Embarq cut from capital spending the last few years. CenturyLink will be an $18B company with nearly $2B in profits; they can easily afford the additional buildout. Embarq is in harvest mode, with capital spending 30% below depreciation.

The Century deal should at least match the AT&T/BellSouth promise of “broadband for all” in 2007 and a $10 offer to encourage new users  but with substance.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 07:26
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Madison River: 99% Rural Broadband, 176K Lines, 2006
Saturday, 13 June 2009 16:53

GallatinriverwinterIn 2006, 99% of the 176,000 customers of Madison River, a rural carrier, could receive broadband. 30% were already subscribers. It apparently only cost a couple of hundred per home for the broadband. To see whether they had particularly unusual circumstances, I reviewed their IPO filing.

Madison River's territory is no harder to serve than the typical rural carrier. Hinesville, Georgia is typical, where revenues were effected when the 3rd Infantry Division stationed at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Their DSL deployment was not particularly expensive, probably only a couple of hundred dollars per line. I infer the cost because their total capital spending was less than $100/line each year, which included an edge-out expansion, a fiber network, and all the usual costs of running a phone company.

The cost of this actual rural broadband deployment is so low that the numbers cited in the FCC rural broadband report need to be re-examined.

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Amazon Goes Postal Because Broadband is Too Slow
Thursday, 28 May 2009 03:27
ThepostmannovelAT&T shouldn't be slower than the Post Office at moving data. My $99 new Seagate terabyte drive would take six months to back up over an ordinary DSL or cable modem uplink. Literally. With Jennie's video work, we'll fill it in months. Werner Vogels' customers at Amazon S3 often move large data files, which would take weeks even at 10 megabits.

Vogels' Solution: the Post Office and Federal Express. Amazon S3 with AWS Import/Export is the fancy name for long distance sneakernet. Werner blogs “no ecommerce site can function anymore without mining massive amounts of data to optimize recommendations to their customers. Also in the systems management domain, data sets are growing faster and faster, consequently backup and disaster recovery has to deal with increasingly large sets.”

Speed thrills. “The Third Internet is fast enough to watch.”

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More Bandwidth For Bhutan
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:44
“Your current bandwidth reading is 953.60kbps” the speedtest at Bhutan Telecom informs me. That's not bad from New York, and is likely to get better with the new deal with Bharti for Trongsa_Dzonginternational connectivity. Bhutan has DSL in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Damphu, Kanglung, and a dozen other cities. Bhutan Telecom serves Trongsa, population 2,300, while many U.S. carriers don't serve all towns that size. The base price is reasonable at $8-$20, but that's for 256K down. 1 meg down costs $40.

Minister Lyonpo Nandalal Rai writes "It is heartening to know that people from across the world are showing interest in our developmental program. So it is definitely becoming a 'Global Village' in which we care for each other. We are from the 'Land of Gross National Happiness.' Our National Broadband programe will be completed by first quarter 2011.

At the moment broadband connectivity is about 50-60% with about 98% reliability. Now with the agreement with Bharti Airtel we hope to achieve 99.99%.  We are planning and working towards Universal Connectivity by 2011 for all Bhutanese. Access to the world outside has improved and increased with broadband at more affordable rates and better values added. It was good interacting. Bye."

 
Westell: We Will Be A Software Company – And Profitable
Thursday, 30 July 2009 00:13
rick_gilbertRick Gilbert has produced a $1.5M profit after a string of losses, based on several $million of additional orders from Verizon or AT&T for home gateways. Rick says “we are becoming more of a software company as features are added to those core products.” The shift makes sense, after a decade of struggle against high-volume Asian hardware suppliers. The Bells loved to parade then-CEO Van Cullens around D.C. because Westell actually manufactured in Illinois. They now contract manufacturing in China. The biggest issue is one customer (?Verizon) that is holding back $13M “until we would deliver substantially all of the software that is potentially called for in the arrangement selling that product.”

Westell was a DSL pioneer over a decade ago and supplied some of the gear for the earliest trials. Rick Gilbert's Copper Mountain and especially Alcatel won away the DSLAM contacts, but Westell remained the favored supplier of modems to Verizon and BellSouth. Having ex-Bell Atlantic CTO John Seazholtz on the board always helped.

Margins fell as DSL modems became commoditized and especially after Shaygan Kheradpir took over Verizon purchasing and ferociously squeezed supplier margins. Their strong relations with Bill Smith at BellSouth have proven out as they have retained AT&T as a customer.

Westell's strategy became to find more customers around the world, but Gilbert has now pulled back. “The big difference between some of the previous initiatives and this year is, we are focusing on our current customers, our large customers, our fundamental product lines.” Good to see them coming back; the stock not long fell to twenty cents and sold for less than the company's cash. With no debt and $50M in cash, the $80M market cap would make them highly attractive to acquire in ordinary times. Brian Cooper has taken over as CFO recently. (Transcript: Seeking Alpha)

 
Next Level-Motorola Enters Maintenance Mode
Thursday, 09 July 2009 12:35

Next Level was the pioneer of TV over DSL back in 1999 and reached a market cap in the $billions on modest revenues and large losses. They were an independent company, but General Instruments had majority control in return for early investments. Motorola bought GI and after a bitter battle also bought out minority shareholders.

The premiere deployment was U.S. West in Phoenix, which soon reached 30,000 homes. Before the Qwest takeover, U.S. West intended to expand the TV package to other cities. Joe Nacchio put those plans on hold, but we spoke several times about his intent to resume the build. "I speak almost every month to Chris Galvin at Motorola and when the price comes down enough we'll expand," he told me. He later told me he expected to go ahead, but left soon after. Qwest turned out to be facing bankruptcy and cut everything. They are still milking the network built a decade ago, with capex far below depreciation. They are begging for a bailout from USF with strong state support, but ultimately telcos without wireless or fiber are in deep trouble.

Bell Canada used Next Level gear for "fiber to the basement" in Toronto highrises very sucessfully, and Gene Roman grew that deployment to Montreal as well.Several dozen small U.S. carriers also deployed. Next Level gear was always more expensive but had the advantage of working.There never was enough volume to cover costs, including a quarter with a $145M loss.

CTDI has now taken over the product line. They will provide on-going support and availability of the product to the Carrier and MSO customers. The Pennsylvania based CTDI has a worldwide telecom maintenance service and provides the field service for many manufacturers. They've taken on product lines from Nortel and others, and I've heard good things from their customers.


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2009 17:03
 
The Buck Stops Here, Mr. Chairman 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009 16:03

julius_genachowskiJules Genachowski takes over after the worst six months for broadband coverage since 1998 when things began.  The big four companies that control Harry_Truman_buck_stops_here75% of the market report added virtually no new coverage. AT&T won't even give me a figure for their deployment, which currently is about 5 points lower than their CEO suggested on Wall Street years ago. The U.S. and Canada have by far the worst DSL availability in the developed world, even when just rural or urban areas are compared. Obama talks about broadband for all, but his first six months have been all talk.

By the best available data, fewer new homes became servable since the election than in the prior six months. Almost everyone halted their existing plans, hoping to do the same thing a year later with massive subsidies. Since few expect deployment to start up before the end of 2009, we almost certainly will have the worst year in a decade. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Cablevision, Cox and most others are spending their budget on upgrades to existing areas.  Almost all of the companies in this industry are spending substantially less on capex than depreciation. DOCSIS 3.0 and FiOS are great, but they aren't getting to everyone.

I am not objective about this administration. I've written Obama will be the best president of my lifetime, and readers need to know my bias. I know many of the appointees; they are the best and brightest in the industry.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 July 2009 23:17
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Watching Iran
Monday, 22 June 2009 11:33

James Cowie of Renesys has provided remarkable insight into what Iran is actually doing with their Internet connectivity. Iranian_proxies_renesysRenesys found that Iran was always connected, contrary to many news stories. “Except for a brief period of outage over the weekend, the routes into Iran from the rest of the world have been basically intact, if a bit congested and unstable. Most of that congestion and instability is probably the result of six billion people who are freshly interested in Iranian politics, all reading (and in some cases, yes, attacking) Iranian websites.”

Cowie describes the current situation: “Perhaps the strangest thing of all, given how diverse and active and vocal the proxy server farmers have been, is that by and large, it isn't working. (Map on left from Renesys)The rate with which new proxies are being created has slumped over the last few days. It's getting harder and harder to propagate new proxies to the people who need them, as the government consolidates its hold on the filtering mechanisms. Any new proxy addresses that are posted to Twitter, or emailed, will be blocked very quickly.

People we talk to inside Iran say that almost no proxies are usable any more. F

Last Updated on Monday, 22 June 2009 14:01
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BT Heavily Throttling BBC, All Video
Friday, 12 June 2009 07:45
BT_booth

Significant error in this story: BT's terms of service explicitly say that streaming video will be throttled to 896K on Option 1 (about 1,000 words in) I was therefore wrong to say this was a change that would allow breaking contracts. I relied on another reporters' comments rather than reading the actual BT posting. Thanks to Simon Dux of BT for the facts that showed my error.

London: British Telecom's John Petter tells FT they throttle8 megabits per second customers down to 896 kilobits per second between 5pm and midnight.” That's far below standard TV quality and half the speed of the typical U.S. network's Internet feed. (ABC was 1.9 megabits and AT&T 2.1 megabits last I checked.)

sally_davis_bt

They claim that video traffic growth is driving up BT's costs so much they must charge extra, but Cisco has just done a major report that finds a slight decrease in the rate of Internet traffic growth. France Telecom, Verizon, and AT&T are doing just fine, with very high DSL margins.

While hard to handle video demand is possible in theory, I reported in September from the CEO of BT Wholesale

Davis' network is ready for video

BT does not need to charge extra for access for the iPlayer. Sally Davis, CEO BT Wholesale, confirms she was misquoted in the British papers about the problems. They've solved any congestion problems. ... A respected newspaper had reported Davis saying they had a problem, but the text of the speech confirmed the reporter got it wrong. We all do. http://bit.ly/ssfBi

I was also delighted to report from BT their rates – and actual costs – for bandwidth are dropping.

BT Cutting High Volume Backhaul Rates in Half

The new BT backhaul is "approximately 50 per cent cheaper,"

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 09:50
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Alcatel 7750 Cracking FT's Core
Monday, 25 May 2009 20:06

Dramatic cost savings from Iliad's all-IP network enable profitably offering a 30 euro triple play, the best Basil_alwandeal in the Western world. 4M customers have switched to Iliad/Free, so it's no surprise France Telecom has chosen to also go all-IP. The surprise is the choice of the Alcatel 7750, originally marketed as an edge router with high reliability, rather than the usual "big iron" from Cisco or Juniper.  Alcatel is France's national champion and guaranteed a close look at FT, but Alcatel routers are also gaining share around the world.  Similarly, Ericsson is pushing their Redback gear many places that would have called for a "core router." Both are due for upgrades soon, which means they will match the "big iron" of Cisco's recent past.

France Telecom has some of the best technical people in the world and a reputation for innovation. They are about to stream the French Open tennis tournament in 3D, one of the first live 3D events.  They've planned a conversion to full IP for years, and now the budget was found. The network upgrades should allow FT to handle just about any likely level of traffic without congestion problems, so they will not require throttling.

The Alcatel router was originally built by Basil Alwan's company, TiMetra, which is proving to be the finest acquisition Alcatel has made.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 03:12
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“Orange treads on Sarkozy's toesies”
Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:01
Nathalie_Kosciusko-Morizet_is_not_the_usual_faceless_bureaucratFT/Orange's Internet price increases infuriated even the conservative French government, Martyn Warwick reports. “What has caused the Sarkozy administration to bring in the big guns is that amongst the plans affected is a socially-inclusive low bandwidth offering that provides the poorest in French society with a basic five hours of web access a month for just €5. Under Orange's proposals this will rise to €6 - a paltry sum but with an explosive political charge beneath it. ... France's Minister for the Digital Economy, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, made the media rounds to stress that for reasons of 'social cohesion' within France some form of Internet service should always be available under the 'psychological level' of €20 a month.”

The OFCOM or FCC chairman needs to step up whenever broadband prices increase or be guilty of hypocrisy talking about broadband for all. Costs of broadband are largely going down, so prices should rarely be going up. This is the single most important reason people don't take broadband. Warwick also reports that after FT UK price increases, “Bitter Wallet produced an online guide showing disgruntled Orange customers how to terminate a contract

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2009 22:34
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After Infineon, The Name Will Be ...
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 22:21
christian_wolff_sm

The wireline division of Infineon, a DSL leader, has been sold to Golden Gate Capital for 250M euro and will soon need a new name. (Suggestions anyone?) Christian Wolff will be working harder than ever to beat the other three DSL chipmakers, with the incentives of a private company, Golden Gate Capital. John Knoll of Golden Gate was at Covad in 1999 when DSL first boomed, back when Bob Knowling expected to destroy the incumbents. Knowling was wrong.

imranWolff will go along as CEO , and I was very glad to hear all of the 900 staff now working with the division are expected to move to the new company. All product lines will continue. Buyouts nearly always structure senior executive pay with very strong incentives, so look for <whatever the new company is called> to be aggressive with new products.

Imran Hajimusa, who is enthusiastic about the possibilities, writes, “The new company will be fabless. Currently almost 2/3 of Wireline division production is already fabless, i.e. produced other than at Infineon fabs. The Wireline Division is sold as a complete unit, continuity is preserved in products, projects, locations and personnel. The new company will focus on bringing more innovations to the broadband communication world.”

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2009 15:38
 
Level 2 At Last: Alcatel's Green DSL
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 13:10

Finland_woodsLevel 2 low power mode has been in the standard for years, but rarely used. Switching modes caused enough noise that other lines in the binder would reset, and the customer would be disconnected. The modems would automatically re-sync, but meanwhile a angry IPTV viewer may have missed a goal in an important football game.

Alcatel's solution is "artificial noise" for ADSL and "virtual noise" for VDSL2 service, which causes the modem to sync at lower power and lower speeds. Some IPTV operators are willing to sacrifice performance for stability. The noise at startup provides more margin to the connection, so it's less likely to drop due to interference. Their early trials resulted in a large drop in calls to help centers, according to data I believe was from Telecom Italia. This appears to be standard in their forthcoming VDSL line cards.

I've asked Alcatel for the data on how much speed needs to be sacrificed for this extra reliability. The data I saw more than a year ago involved a 10-25% drop in speed on some lines. Their spokesman believe that's changed,

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 July 2009 01:22
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CenturyTel-Embarq "Concessions"
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 16:50

Terms that are nearly meaningless to the broadband "unserved" http://

bit.ly/Xpn1

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2009 08:02
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Brazil Ascending in Q1 Numbers
Saturday, 20 June 2009 05:49

lula_barackBroadband reached 429.2M lines adding 16.6M according to Point-Topic. That was actually up despite the economy. Brazil added over two million broadband lines - most DSL - Q1 2009 over Q1 2008. That was more than Japan, France or Britain. China added 17M in 12 months, passing the U.S. and starting to pull away.

The chart below from Strategy Analytics reports broadband penetration by household rather than population for 30 countries. Korea is at 95%, Singapore, Holland, Denmark, Taiwan and Hong Kong over 80%. France is the highest among large nations at 68%.  Britain, Japan, the U.S., Germany and Spain are between 57% and 67%. a group that also includes Estonia, Slovenia, and Lithuania. Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Argentina and Chile are between 27% and 37%, with China at 21%. By household, the U.S. is at #20, even lower than the OECD ranking. That should shut up the D.C. apologists who say OECD is off because it doesn't account for family size. Reality is the U.S. is well behind the leaders in the middle of the pack. On the other hand, people who predict economic catastrophe because of modest differences in broadband are equally off-base Broadband is a good thing, but it doesn't tranform transform the economy. That's pure magical thinking that people believe because they want to believe. Verizon bought a few "studies" that provided a veneer of credibility, but they all fall apart if you look closely. If they ever were true, they are now badly out of date.

Japan's mid of the pack household rate of 64% might surprise people because Japan has 80% fiber coverage at a low price. Growth has been slow since 3G wireless became common, and I'd guess many folks are content with a fast connection on their mobiles.

Point-Topic Broadband Forum Q1 leaders
China 88,088,000
USA 83,968,547
Japan 30,631,900
Germany 24,144,350
France 18,009,500
UK 17,661,100
South Korea 15,709,771
Italy 12,447,533
Brazil 10,065,200
Canada 9,533,500

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 June 2009 08:08
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Judge Martinez: AT&T "Unconscionable"
Thursday, 28 May 2009 18:31

AT&T, like nearly all major U.S. companies, routinely cheats customers via clauses buried in fine print. In consumer law, the fine print garbage is often meaningless and unenforceable, but fighting back can be far more expensive than just paying the crooked bill. Verizon in New York required me, a New York customer, to go to Virginia if I wanted to fight an unfair charge. Virgina was chosen, I believe, because it refused to allow class actions, the only way for consumers cheated of a few dollars each to recoup. Karl Bode at DSL Reports wrote this one well

AT&T Still Can't Force Arbitration Via Fine Print

No matter how many times their lawyers try...

Last Updated on Monday, 15 June 2009 19:16
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HD Voice Really Is Great, But
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 02:31
Listen for half a minute to a demo of a high-bit-rate codec and you expect they will transform our industry. The difference is like a CD with great headphones versus a little transistor radio. Suddenly, you realize just how awful the sound is on your regular telephone. Who wouldn't want their call to sound dramatically better was my first reaction. When Thomson and some of the cable folks discussed plans, I was enthusiastic.

Years later, nearly no one is taking advantage. That may simply be organizational inertia, ready to be broken wide open when a local carrier makes a big move. Both ends of the call must have the right equipment so you need to quickly build a large number of users. That's impractical for anyone but a carrier with a large base of customers. A Cablevision in Long Island or a France Telecom could make this work, I believe. They'd have to inexpensively offer a new phone and the service to enough homes that there's a good chance the person you want to call also has a high quality phone. It's easy to imagine that once you reach critical mass, somewhere between 20 and 50% of a region, everyone else would want to join. It would be an extraordinarily effective way to pull customers from competitors.

Or maybe not. A hundred million people have given up landlines for the inferior sound quality of mobile. A respected engineer writes “I have done quite a bit of work on "HD" voice.
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