Hey…Sports Fans, FCC Tells Cable Companies to Play Fair!

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave sports fans a reason to tailgate today by adopting rules to bring sports programming to more video providers.  Ultimately, this means consumers will have more choices in how and from who they receive programming they want.

While we still have to review the full details of the FCC’s ruling, the positive effects of the FCC’s decision should ultimately enable consumers in all markets to exercise their ability to choose an alternative video provider without having to give up rooting for their own local sports teams.  We are hopeful that with these new rules, consumers in Connecticut will no longer have to watch their favorite sports teams in standard definition just because they want to sign up for AT&T’s award-winning U-verse video service, nor will baseball fans in San Diego have to give up the Padres to make the same choice. [Cox and Cablevision complaints.]

Consumers should give the FCC a well deserved standing ovation for coming off the bench to once and for all close the so-called terrestrial loophole that has long deprived consumers of local sports programming. Today’s action by the FCC beefs up the rules to ensure that AT&T’s U-verse TV service with its 2 million and growing subscribers are able to view the content that they want.

Read More

TAGS: , ,
TOPICS: Video
Bookmark and Share

A Consumer-Based Standard for Protecting the Open Internet

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

Last night, we filed comments in the FCC’s Open Internet rulemaking.  For those of you who want to read our submission in full, you can do so here.  Also, I’m happy to report that we have three bonus features attached to our filing.  First, a paper written by two respected, former FCC officials, Gerald Faulhaber and David Farber.  Second, two wireless experts, Jeffrey Reed and Nishith Tripathi, discuss the impact of the proposed rules on wireless broadband networks.  And third, Marius Schwartz, former DoJ official in the Clinton Administration provides an economic analysis and likely effects of the proposed rules.

For those that want the cliff’s notes version of our filing, you can continue reading this blog post.

AT&T supports the goal that this rulemaking embarks to accomplish:  preserve the openness of the Internet while maintaining the right incentives for deployment of next-generation “smart” networks needed to support all the applications, content and services that consumers want.  Although undoubtedly developed with the best of intentions, we don’t believe that the FCC’s proposed rules, as written, will accomplish these goals.  However, we hope and fully expect that, as this process moves forward, many of the concerns and questions being raised from a lot of different quarters will be addressed and we will retain a framework that protects Internet openness while preserving incentives that will promote infrastructure investment to keep the Internet the vibrant marketplace it is today.

Read More

U-Verse TV, Video Game Consoles and Broadband Deployment

Posted by: Chris Boyer on January 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and while there’s been a lot of buzz about AT&T’s announcing its support of Android phones and about the usual new CE devices like tablet PCs, netbooks, e-readers and 3D TVs that were on display, I want to highlight an underappreciated announcement that has public policy implications for video services.

In his keynote address on Wednesday evening, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that both the Xbox 360 and Windows 7 PCs will support Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft’s IPTV solution that powers AT&T’s U-verse service.  As Ballmer mentioned, AT&T is planning to introduce the option for U-verse TV customers to use their Xbox 360 as a U-verse set-top box later this year.  There is the potential of doing the same for Mediaroom-capable PCs in the future.

Why is this important to policymakers?  Last month the FCC issued an inquiry as part of its National Broadband Plan raising several questions related to set-top boxes which, as explained by Saul Hansell in the NY Times Bits Blog included “Why can’t that box you get from your cable company also get programs over the Internet and from other sources?” and “Would the availability of set-top boxes in retail stores encourage people to get broadband Internet service…and create a competitive market in devices that hook up to cable systems?”

Read More

TAGS: , ,
TOPICS: Video
Bookmark and Share

Why Does Free Press Want to Dumb Down the Internet?

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Today, we sent a letter to the FCC in response to Free Press’ submission objecting to Senator Olympia Snowe’s sensible proposal for a way forward on the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Preserving the Open Internet.  Rather than an overbroad blanket of Commission action, Snowe’s framework focuses on unjust or unreasonable discrimination that causes consumer harm or is anticompetitive.

The basic problem with Free Press’ approach is that it ignores the fundamental character of the Internet.  Rather than helping consumers, it would instead deprive consumers of their ability to choose how to use Internet bandwidth and services.  How is this pro-consumer?

This issue boils down to whether we want smart broadband networks that recognize the Internet as dynamic, innovative and ever-advancing, capable of enabling the latest gizmos the edge community can offer or whether we want dumb broadband networks that would only be capable of responding to the lowest common “quality” denominator, limiting the quality of those gizmos available to consumers.

Read More

DTV Deadline for POTS-Part 2

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on January 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm

As reported in my last blog, we recently filed comments in response to an FCC public notice on the transition from legacy networks and services to broadband. At the time, I had no idea how much interest this proceeding, and our filing, would generate. I came back from the holidays to find dozens of blog posts and articles reporting on, and in some cases “interpreting” our filing. While I understand that it might be fun to write about the phone company asking for permission to shut off telephone service, that wasn’t exactly the point of our filing.

Our filing was simply the latest in a series of filings (1, 2) that we’ve made over the last couple of years pointing out that the traditional POTS business model is in permanent and irreversible decline. AT&T is not alone in observing this trend. In fact, observers ranging from Stacey Higginbotham (Landlines are Obsolete in Less than a Generation) to the NYT (Continued decline of wireline number 3 top tech theme for 2010) have made the same point. Nor was AT&T the first to suggest a firm deadline for the transition.

Ordinarily this circumstance would be of little interest to regulators or policy wonks, but the POTS model is itself largely a creature of regulation. What I mean is that the business model of providing “basic local exchange service” (at a regulated price), plus “exchange access services” (at regulated prices), plus “long distance service” (at nationally averaged and integrated prices), plus (in some cases) explicit universal service subsidies, is at least as much the product of years of accumulated regulation as it is of supply and demand. The truth is that market forces alone would never have created this business model, and certainly would not have extended it to the low density areas that are the beneficiaries of the implicit and explicit subsidies inherent in the model.

Read More

TAGS: ,
Bookmark and Share