In the News

Published November 1, 2006

Competition Will Save Users $100 Billion, Study Finds

Because they now have choices for local telephone service, consumers and small businesses could save more than $100 billion over the next five years, according to a study conducted for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The study calculates the savings consumers and small business customers would gain by switching to cable telephony services at nearly $12 billion from 2007 to 2011. Customers of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers could see savings of $6.8 billion.

The study also projects an additional $83 billion in savings for consumer and small business customers who remain with incumbent local phone carriers, with these savings derived from the carriers’ responses to increased competition during the five-year period.

The study found individual consumers could see annual average savings of about $134 and small businesses average annual savings of about $462 by switching to cable telephony.

Nearly 24 million households will subscribe to cable telephone service by 2011, according to the study; more than 7 million do so today.

The study was done by Microeconomic Consulting and Research Associates and is available online at

DSL Big in the Countryside

DSL deployment is booming in rural America, according to a new report from the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA). Trends 2006: Making Progress with Broadband reports 1,044 members of NECA provide more than 630,000 DSL lines, a substantial increase from 151 members providing 20,000 DSL lines in 1999.

NECA, which administers the FCC’s access charge on phone service, said the study shows rural telephone companies have begun using Ethernet, packet, and softswitch technology to replace circuit switching devices and have been upgrading cable and wire networks, the better to provide voice, video, and data services over high-speed broadband connections.

NECA plans to publish Trends annually to track the progress of network technology deployment and convergence of those technologies. The current report is available online at

Patients Want Online Remedies

The medical profession trails other service sectors when it comes to using Internet-based solutions for managing customer information–specifically, patient and medical data, according to a September Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health Care Poll.

A majority of adults surveyed want to communicate directly with their physicians via email (74 percent); schedule doctor appointments via the Internet (75 percent); receive the results of diagnostic tests via email (67 percent); use home monitoring devices that allow them to send medical data to their physicians via email or telephone (57 percent); and receive email reminders about being due for an appointment or medical procedure (77 percent).

Yet almost none of the adults surveyed had access to such services. Internet-savvy physicians may gain an edge: 62 percent of adults said a doctor’s ability to use email with them would influence their choice of physician “a great deal” or “to some extent,” the report said.

As for electronic medical records, 64 percent of adults want access to them. However, many (62 percent) also believe electronic records make it more difficult to ensure patients’ privacy.

Sharon J. Watson ([email protected]) is a freelance writer.