It should have been a no brianer, and it took far too long. The Department of Justice has finally filed an Anti trust complaint against AT&T. As expected AT&T and T Mobile Parent DT are protesting.
Why do I think this is the right move when so many in government have been singing off the same free market sheet of music in support of AT&T? Simple. Wireless is not a free market. AT&T deliberately avoids playing in free markets. Rightly or wrongly, government has decided that fixed connections will have limited right of ways, and the limited wireless frequencies will be divided between a small, limited number of operators. Put simply, AT&T is the #1 land line operator, the #1 spectrum holder in most major markets and the #2 wireless carrier. I have serious doubts that the company’s current pre T Mobile structure would would get a clear pass from the Sherman Act as is. (more…)
Well the iPhone monopoly is truly over. In an attempt to prevent massive exodus from the AT&T network they are offering iPhone user bennies –
AT&T Gives 1000 Rollover Minutes To iPhone Users
Jason Chen — AT&T Gives 1000 Rollover Minutes To iPhone UsersA thousand free rollover minutes to iPhone users for not abandoning them seems like a fairly decent deal. But the thing with having a smartphone is that you never have to call anyone, so what are you going to do with those 1000 minutes? [9to5Mac]
Yet our FCC sees to think this is not significant and in a circuitous fashion ends up supporting the very oligarchy they say they don’t like. The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
It seems like AT&T’s sole strategy for wireless growth over the last few years has been the iPhone. As the death star’s exclusive run on the popular, but overpriced product nears it’s end, no one should be surprised that network upgrades will finally be made.
Better service may be on the horizon for AT&T’s long-suffering wireless customers if the mobile giant can close a deal, announced today, to purchase nearly $2 billion worth of prime wireless spectrum licenses from Qualcomm. AT&T, the second largest mobile service provider in the country, will use the spectrum for its next-generation, high-speed wireless service.
The spectrum won’t be usable by current iPhone customers, due to hardware compatibility issues and the time it takes to deploy new equipment. But it will likely be usable by the next generation of iPhones and other smartphones. AT&T said it “expects to begin deploying this spectrum once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed.” (Ars Technica)
While it’s a good thing for AT&T to beef up its capability to serve its customers, there’s a much larger issue at work here. As long as networks are tied exclusively to carrier provided equipment, it only makes sense to limit the amount of spectrum a single entity may license. This would allow for at least a little more competitive pressure in the marketplace.
AT&T’s iPhone exclusive enabled it to charge an extreme premium for service and a device that only worked with it’s own severely under built network. The airwaves mobile carriers use is the property of the American people, not the wireless cartel or the FCC. If the public interest isn’t being served adequately, licenses should be revoked or at the very least limited. Either the ecosystem needs more carriers or the few that we have should not be permitted to sell access hardware.
The 700 MHz spectrum Verizon licensed had the condition of allowing access to non-Verizon devices. Not only should this requirement be enforced, the same condition should be applied to AT&T and the other carriers before allowing the transfer of any more spectrum to them. Handset makers will quickly adapt and produce multi network products. Handset prices will fall, and carriers will have to start competing in earnest when customers can freely move devices from one provider to the next.
I’m not suggesting we punish wireless carriers. Competition tends to make businesses more efficient and can actually improve profitability, even with lower prices. After all, that’s the way the market is supposed to work.
My solution goes like this: Present an ultimatum to telcos and cable ops. Either divest from IP based content and services or open access to networks at a depreciation schedule based price. Cable operators will need to discontinue analog channel delivery and reserve those channels for lease to competitive access providers, again for a depreciation schedule based fee. If telcos and cable ops don’t like that deal they can always spin off voice and video and live on as providers of dumb pipe. As draconian as this may sound, I an certain that this will actually refocus telcos and cable ops on their core businesses, increasing profit and shareholder value. It would also provide enough alternative access options to make the network neutrality debate irrelevant
If you are a Time Warner Cable subscriber eager to get Epix, the pay-TV channel from Viacom, Lions Gate and MGM, you may be in for a long wait.
Time Warner Cable Chief Financial Officer Rob Marcus said Epix didn’t do itself any favors when it struck a deal with Netflix that made movies from the pay channel’s parent studios available for Internet streaming just 90 days after their debut on Epix.
Speaking at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Marcus said that Epix’s deal with Netflix devalued the channel.
When Epix struck its deal with Netflix last month, it hoped that a three-month window between when a movie appeared on the pay cable channel and when it was available for streaming would placate distributors such as Time Warner Cable.
Tho I think what the Boss has advocated has a reasonable basis in the realities of the Telcom industry, the Cable Cos probably want none of it. That evidenced by the decision of TWC not to license Epix services as they cut a deal with NetFlix. Seems to me to be a unusual version of redlining, only its not the customers its done to but their choice of entertainment supplier. An interesting test of this would be for a TWC broadband user announces he uses NetFlix for all his viewing pleasure.
The sad thing is the Suits are holding on to a dream that is almost dead. They can’t control the content access anymore using threats against the channel partners. They already have NetFlix. Hulu is ramping up online. RedBox is cleaning up in the JIT delivery of movies via kiosk BestBuy and I am sure WalMart will soon enter the fray on IP based pay per view. (Though that is a dead one unless the price is right.) So the fact is content providers have alternate avenues to display their wares. The Cable Cos like the AT&T and VZ folk have to adjust to the fact they are being relegated to a data only world anyway.
Can they compete in the content delivery arena? Sure. Fact I welcome it, more the merrier. But both players have to get their legacy costs down or they will be/ or are eclipsed by the new entrants.
Moves like TWC’s are like a scene out of a John Ford western. Lying behind the dead horse taking shots at individual providers while the whole tribe of other suppliers over run your position. Futile.
While the FCC searches for a way to get the authority to regulate the Internet, the net neutrality debate rages on. I stand firm on my position that net neutrality is a very poor substitute for real competition.
Competition ended the day the FCC quit requiring telcos to share their last mile right of ways and lines. That left the telcos and cable guys as a fixed line duopoly. Next, the FCC destroyed the promise of a wireless Third Pipe by not preventing the sale of broadband spectrum to the telcos along with allowing the cable guys buying up a chunk of Clearwire’s national Wimax network. So, with an uncompetitive market, net neutrality rules are being pushed as the fix for unfair traffic management. Never mind the fact that the FCC has done a pathitic job of protecting the public interest so far. It wants us to trust it to do better with new regulations.
As the FCC gets closer to crafting network neutrality rules (assuming they even have the authority to do so), AT&T lobbyists have worked overtime to push the idea that creating such rules would automatically result in job losses. To help nudge this scary meme into the press, they hired their old friend Bret Swanson, formerly employed at the Discovery Institute — a think tank that created both the “Exaflood” (debunked here countless times) and “Intelligent Design”. Back in February Swanson, like most AT&T hired policy wonks, used completely bogus “science” to insist that network neutrality rules would result in 1.5 million job losses. He came to that number simply by adding up all of the people employed by companies that submitted comments to the FCC opposing network neutrality (seriously). (Techdirt)
The idea that net neutrality will result in job losses at AT&T or anywhere else is just plain silly. So is the notion that FCC regulations will prevent unfair traffic management practices. I What is needed is an open market. That means fair sharing of the old copper infrastructure we all paid for years ago combined with some open access broadband spectrum. When there are 4 or 5 options in a given market, the net neutrality issue will take care of itself. That doesn’t mean some regulation isn’t needed. In rural market’s someone will need to intervene. I think that task is best left to LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, not the FCC.
By the way, I can guarantee you that an open market will result in job losses at AT&T. The silver lining to that cloud is that here will be better employers in the same line of business for the displaced to work for.
Verizon and AT&T, after getting a lock on the most valuable 700 MHz spectrum are very upset to learn they may have an unexpected competitor. As I predicted, the protests to a plan to re-purpose satellite spectrum for broadband has upset the wireless cartel’s apple cart.
Both AT&T and Verizon, the two biggest winner’s in 2008′s 700 MHz spectrum auction, voiced their displeasure with the plan. (Both Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out LTE services on their 700 MHz holdings.) AT&T said the provision will give unfair advantage to competitors, such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA, which will not have to get approval from the FCC to access the spectrum.
“The commission is setting a very disturbing precedent when it implies that it may use allocation of spectrum to manipulate the wireless market,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, said in a statement. “This action is manifestly unwise and potentially unlawful.”
“Both the bureau’s process and the resulting restrictions are troubling,” Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson told FierceWireless. “We are reviewing our options.”
The FCC, for its part, defended the restrictions. “These commitments–building out the network to 260 million Americans by 2015 and allowing the FCC prior review of potential leases of spectrum or capacity to the two largest incumbent carriers–do not prohibit any specific transactions,” Paul de Sa, chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, wrote in a blog post. “But they do provide some reassurance that the approval will ignite new broadband competition while protecting the public from any potential harms.” (DSL reports)
To accuse the FCC of manipulating the market on behalf of a certain player is incredibly bold for AT&T and Verizon who have successfully manipulated the rules their advantage ever since the original AT&T breakup.
A simple tech fact is that at satellite frequencies, it will take double or more the number of towers to deliver service vs 700 MHz. This alone give s the the 700 MHz carriers a huge advantage. AT&T and Verizon are simply upset that they may have another disadvantaged competitor in addition to Clearwire.