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    Fixed SMS to follow mobile success


    Fixed line operators are confident they can cash in on the mobile-led market for SMS despite a recent report pooh-poohing their chances.

    European operators that have launched, or are planning to launch, fixed SMS include Belgacom, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Austria and Telecom Italia. Beyond Europe, the list includes China Telecom and Singtel.
    But a report from market watcher Ovum describes market opportunities for fixed line phones as “very limited”.
    The report says, “The arguments simply do not stack up. Compared with the spectacular success of SMS over mobile, which generated an estimated USD36billion in worldwide revenue in 2002, fixed SMS is likely to occupy only a niche position in the market.”
    However, BT claims its service is beginning to take off. BT launched a fixed SMS service in November 2001 using custom designed phones. Earlier this year, Philips and Panasonic launched phones that could work on the BT network.
    Now, BT claims, 90,000 SMS messages a month are being sent by BT fixed phones and 13,000 are being received.
    A BT spokeswoman told Mobile Europe she was confident the use of fixed SMS would continue to grow.
    “When people upgrade their phones, they look for new features,” she said. “Originally home phones were just for dialling, then they had answerphones built in and so on. We are waiting for customers to catch up as they learn this facility is available.”
    However, Ovum analyst Nikki Matkovits said, “The translation from the mobile world, where SMS is a mandatory specification of GSM, to the fixed world, where it will be a long time before we see a critical mass of penetration of phones that have SMS capabilities, is riddled with issues.”