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Thursday, October 06, 2005

UMA vs Email Portability

Far be it from me to take pot-shots at my peers & competitors.... but another research firm seems to have been dazzled by the glare of UMA's (Unlicenced Mobile Access) publicity spotlight. It references an earlier study by Motorola that suggests that Europe's consumers are panting in anticipation.

That survey came to the not-so-surprising conclusion that people would be happy to have better wireless coverage at home, and pay less for it.

"50 per cent of respondents said they would be likely to sign up to a UMA service within 12 months"....

To their credit, Motorola even asked the survey's participants if they'd be prepared to change their broadband supplier - absolutely critical if a mobile operator or new entrant wants to offer an FMC (fixed-mobile convergence) service without partnering with the leading broadband service providers.

However, what they didn't ask is whether people would change their broadband supplier, and their ISP email address. Unless you use Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or similar, this is a dealbreaker.

Think about it.

How many people, websites, mailing lists and so on have your broadband ISP email address? How long would it take to change them? How many times have you entered your email address to recover a forgotten password? Do your partner & kids have ISP email addresses too?

Your email address is perhaps the stickiest, most anti-churn, personal service out there. Sure you can add more email addresses - Gmail, your own domain - but ISP email is the primary address for a hell of a lot of people. It's easier to change your mobile than your email, as at least you can run two in tandem during the switchover period. And there are no "email portability" laws.

I can't think of any successful broadband switching strategies among ordinary suppliers - let alone mobile operators new to the game.

Basically, this means that any FMC operator (UMA or SIP/IMS-based) is going to have to work around existing customers' existing broadband contracts and providers. And this is before we get to the thorny issues around who supplies and manages the broadband router & WiFi AP.....


Anonymous said...

Hotmail et al aren't the only way round the problem of ISP email address lock-in.

In the early days of the internet ('96?) somebody introduced me to "Bigfoot for Life", (www.bigfoot.com) a free email address portability service. I think I have changed ISP and/or email service providers five or six times since then but my email address has never changed. I am going to be switching from 2Mb Cable to 24Mb DSL next month which wouldn't be anything like as straightforward if it entailed a change of online identity.

Bigfoot survived the dot com crash and although they have introduced ads and a raft of subscription-based services to feed the furnace this basic service is amazingly still free.

I don't want to sound like an ad for them and I am sure they are not alone, but given the availability of this and similar services I am surprised more people don't use them.

Rabble said...

Oh come on. Really very few people use their ISP's email. That's a total red herring.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with rabble. My business involves dealing with home owners and emailing reports. I can tell you that a TON of people still use ISP addy's. I still do even! I have others too but I can't imagine how many services and people have my email address. its also part of my business too! And I would love to change it. anyway, back to the original comment - I would estimate that at LEAST 50% of my clients use ISP email. sorry!