Fixed line demise: Could we be wrong after all?

mobile replacing fixed.jpg

This could be a very interesting blog .. and I must admit I got caught by surprise ..

I spent the last week in Washington DC at the at the transatlantic week in Washington DC


It was an occasion to meet some of the very clued on folk I have the had the pleasure of knowing for a while.

Chatham house rules means I can’t attribute this – but here was a very interesting comment: In Japan, as we get to better and better MOBILE internet speeds and bandwidth, we need FIXED lines more!!

The reason was: Mobile has a practical limit .. you need the fixed to bring data as close to the customer as possible and thereby take the load off mobile ..

This caught me by surprise and goes against all the conventional industry wisdom I have seen so far ..

Conventional thinking in the West says that people are replacing fixed lines by Mobile only ..

But I can see the point .. and it comes from someone who knows the space in Japan from first hand experience ..

Nor is this only about ‘offload’

There is a subtle point though which I elaborate(thanks to Chetan Sharma who also confirmed my query by email)

I am talking more than pure offload (which is fine of course) but more about the strategy of using the fixed to come as close to the customer. I see it more as a conscious choice to go fixed where possible and mobile only after.

Thus, when you start thinking mobile and fixed as one network, you can start designing the network accordingly. So nations who have much deeper fiber infrastructure are going to be ahead.

And of course those who are able to create such links between fixed and mobile i.e. mere existence of a fiber network is not enough but rather the ability to design the network as one entity

This creates a new use case for fixed .. Dean Bubley added at forumoxford ..

However, I do expect many fiber installations to be “open” for wholesale provision to multiple mobile network operators to exploit. This may need to be mandated by regulators (i.e. structural separation in fixed), or it may happen “naturally” (eg BT OpenReach / Wholesale). I certainly agree that mobile operators will be “anchor tenants” helping to justify the costs of fibre build-out.

Indeed, this was the point of my post .. curiously enough I have not seen this view being articulated in the industry. This could be one of the important solutions to the data deluge problem .. and coming from someone with deep knowledge of Japanese policy/deployment strategy .. it is significant

Even in emerging markets, as they start to consume mobile data, they will need fixed to complement it ..


Image source:


  1. yosko_s says:

    “curiously enough I have not seen this view being articulated in the industry.”
    I believe the whole Femto-cell movement is based on the above assumption.
    True, femto-cells haven’t flourished like they were projected to, but they will get there (for the reasons you gave in the post)

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    thanks Saar. Agree. Femtos are pitched in a different like vodafone suresignal
    femtos could fill that role – yes but at the moment we know that they are being marketed differently. kind rgds Ajit