Posts

What, and How Much, Should AT&T Do About its Access Network Investments?

Image
At least some might point to stock performance of T-Mobile US, compare that to AT&T, and draw the conclusion that AT&T would be better off putting its capital into network upgrades, not content acquisitions.
The "problem" with such suggestions is that they are mistaken. AT&T does not have a gap to close with respect to its mobile network performance, versus T-Mobile US.
Perhaps an argument might be made that AT&T should further accelerate the moves it already is making to boost its 4G network, and create 5G networks. But AT&T is among the firms most active in doing so, and if there are such criticisms, one rarely hears them expressed.
To the extent there is a clear issue, it is the fixed network, and the issue there is market share with respect to cable TV firms and independent ISPs, not T-Mobile US.
Arguing that AT&T should focus on its "access" assets, rather than new revenue sources, mistakes a growth strategy based on taking market share…

Selective Internet "Fast Lanes" Might be Close to Impossible to Create

"Internet fast lanes" have been the big reason many supported strong forms of network neutrality. But it now appears that creation of such "for fee" fast lanes will be next to impossible, in the sense of specific business deals between specific app firms and specific internet service providers.
In other words, the end of common carrier regulation of internet access service will not create fruitful opportunity, on the part of ISPs, to create such "fast lanes," even if they wish to do so. The reason is technology change, as so often is the case.
Consider the simple matter of traffic encryption. To selectively prioritize traffic, an ISP would need some way to identify the packets or partners whose traffic is supposed to be selectively handled. Encryption is a problem, in that regard, one might argue.
Nearly all traffic on ISP networks is encrypted. Under such conditions, it is not clear how selective QoS mechanisms could be applied. ISPs simply will have no …

Media and Content Industry Regulation Will Have to Change, as Did Regulation of VoIP

Image
Does it make sense to regulate some suppliers of the exact same products, sold to the exact same customers, in different ways?
Over the last several decades,  new technology has erased barriers between formerly-separate industries, complicating regulatory tasks, spurring cross-industry mergers and rearranging business models.
Internet voice used to be regulated differently from common carrier voice. Internet video is regulated differently from linear video; internet messaging is treated differently than common carrier messaging. Cable TV firms, telcos and big application providers are regulated under different rules when supplying similar or identical products.
Content creators and packagers have been regulated differently from content distributors. But now content creation and delivery are not separate.
Typically, regulators are “behind the times” when these changes happen, essentially making decisions which look in the rear view mirror, instead of out the windshield. It is a common …

Content Creation, Aggregation, Distribution No Longer are Separate Roles

Image
Once upon a time, there was a clear distinction between content creation; content aggregation and content distribution. Today, the roles are blurring.
In the past, there were laws prohibiting film studies from owning movie theaters, for example. Today, the rules are less stringent, but there are clear limitations on the amount of ownership allowed across the value chain.
The major broadcast networks who assemble content are limited in terms of the number of local TV outlets they can own, for example.
The “old media” thinking was that walls had to be erected between content packagers and content distributors. As a corollary, there were rules about mandatory licensing of content to distributors (“must carry” rules for cable TV, for example).
“New media” breaks all those old rules about separating content creation; content aggregation and content distribution.
That is not to imply or suggest that “more regulation” of the new leaders is needed. Business and industry models are changing, a…

U.S. FCC Will Vote to Remove Common Carrier Regulations on Internet Access in December 2017

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on Dec. 14, 2017 to remove common carrier regulations from internet access services.
The move is called an attack on network neutrality, but the decision is more complicated than many claim.
In many clear ways, Title II common carrier regulation is a separate issue from network neutrality, which some believe should include a prohibition on any quality of service mechanisms for consumer internet access (no “fast lanes”).
Common carrier regulation is more directly concerned with price regulation, terms and conditions of service, not “network neutrality” in a direct sense.
In a formal sense, the original classification of internet access services as a common carrier service applied a utility-style framework on internet access services that always before had been regulated as “data services.”
One practical result was that consumer welfare issues moved from the purview of the Federal Trade Commission to the FCC itself.
Though commonly ref…

How Will CBRS Market Develop?

Image
Will new access capacity (Citizens Broadband Radio Service; use of unlicensed and shared spectrum) allow new entities to compete with mobile operators in the access services business? Some think so.
Rethink Technology, for example, has argued that shared spectrum will trigger new “challengers” to mobile operator revenue models.
Others might point to decades-ago arguments about Wi-Fi replacing mobile networks and conclude that new shared and unlicensed spectrum likely will create new use cases and marginally affect wide area network access providers.
But the development of Wi-Fi, if a valid indicator of what could happen, suggests complementary use cases more than substitution. source: Rethink Technology Research
Caroline Gabriel, director of research at Rethink Technology Research, believes that “enterprise small cells, particularly those operating in unlicensed spectrum, could be the undoing of mobile network operators, relegating them to ‘utility’ commoditization, and falling revenues…

U.S. Internet Access: What Would it Take for AT&T, Verizon to Take 10 Market Share Points?

The largest U.S. cable TV companies have 64 percent share of internet access accounts in the United States, according to the latest data from Leichtman Research Group. But there also is an 80/20 rule at work: the firms that drive most of the activity are Comcast and Charter; AT&T and Verizon.

Charter and Comcast have 81 percent of the cable internet customers. AT&T and Verizon have 67 percent of the telco internet access customers.

Between them, Charter and Comcast got 93 percent of the net account additions in the cable TV internet access provider segment. And while AT&T gained marginally, while Verizon lost marginally, nearly all the telco ISP losses came from CenturyLink and Frontier Communications.

In other words, though cable ISPs continue to get virtually all the net gains in accounts, AT&T and Verizon are roughly flat, in terms of subscriber installed base, while it is the rural operations that are losing share to cable rivals.

There might be some larger implica…