A Few More Thoughts on Wireless

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I got a lot of reaction to my original blog entitled Wireless is Different.  Some good, some critical, but all of it important to the debate.  I welcomed it all, especially the responses from those that disagreed, because it creates an opportunity for a better explanation, a more detailed understanding of what’s actually happening out there on our wireless networks.

Some just are not convinced that wireless is in fact different in any way that matters to the net neutrality debate.  While they didn’t rebut the fundamental points I made regarding the finite nature of wireless network capacity, they viewed the argument as a strawman for some underlying intent by wireless network providers to block apps and services at their whim.  At its core, this opposition is rooted in a fundamental concern about who is going to control the apps and services that wireless network providers deliver over their finite and shared wireless infrastructure.

The answer to that is quite simply:  the customer.  User consumption is fueling the new mobile broadband revolution and there is not a wireless network provider out there doing anything but trying to keep up.  Again, let’s turn to some facts. 

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Wireless is Different

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

It’s now day four of the aftermath of the Verizon-Google net neutrality announcement and the number of voices weighing in on the matter continues to grow.  Monday’s news fanned what was already a passionate discussion.  And it also brought into focus a critical aspect of the net neutrality debate – the treatment of wireless networks in any net neutrality regime.

There is much misinformation out there about this issue, as well as a genuine lack of understanding about the limits technology and physics impose on wireless networks.  It was therefore a pleasant surprise to read Fortune’s take on the matter.

The article’s opening line sums it up: “Unrestricted access rules for wireless networks would hurt users more than help them. They just don’t realize it.”  We’ve been making this point for several months now but we can’t emphasize it enough:  wireless is simply different.

Wireless broadband is an extraordinary technology and has led to countless innovative (and really cool) mobile services.  It has completely altered how we communicate, play, consume news and information and watch videos. It plays an enormous role in our daily lives, and it will continue to do so at an ever-increasing pace.  But we have huge challenges ahead, defined by the ever-constant struggle between capacity and demand.  

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It’s Not Just About Price

Posted by: Carl Povelites on July 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

In the FCC’s 14th Annual Wireless Competition Report, the Commission identifies three broad categories of non-price rivalry among wireless providers, including, (1) network upgrades; (2) product information and perception; and (3) downstream product differentiation.   With the launch of a new smartphone almost every month – the new Bold, the new iPhone, the Incredible – the FCC is being schooled in non-price rivalry on a regular basis.

Let’s briefly look at each of the three broad categories identified by the FCC.  First, network upgrades, a very broad category that includes everything to do with the network – technology deployed, coverage, speed of transferring data, etc.  A person would have to be hard pressed not to believe that there is intense competition (yes, I will say it, effective competition) in this area, where entire marketing campaigns are designed to one-up the competition.  The FCC’s report does a decent job in highlighting not only the major carriers’ investments in technology and coverage, but also that of smaller providers and new entrants, such as Leap and Clearwire.

Typical of this report though, while noting positive data, such as the fact that 99.6% of the population has mobile data coverage, 98.1% of the population has mobile broadband coverage or that 95.9% of the population is served by three or more providers, the report looks hard to point out a negative.  Instead of admitting that only 4.1% of Americans lack access to three or more providers, the FCC instead explains that 30% of rural Americans lack 3 or more choices – purposely twisting a good news story into one that sounds worse than it is. 

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Obama Administration’s Spectrum Policy

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on June 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Today’s Presidential Memorandum on spectrum policy, and the public comments of the President’s top economic advisor, are both encouraging and timely. At AT&T, we are already dealing with phenomenal increases in mobile broadband use — a whopping 5,000 percent over the last three years. However, the potential of wireless broadband to drive innovation and connect every American to the Internet will be limited without bold action to address the spectrum crunch that all providers face, and today’s action signals this Administration’s commitment to do just that.

Spectrum deficiencies, if left unaddressed, will limit job growth and investment, harm consumers, and hobble innovation. And just as all wireless carriers will face these spectrum deficiencies, all carriers should be allowed a fair chance to acquire the spectrum their customers need. We look forward to working with the Administration as it moves to meet the spectrum goals outlined in the National Broadband Plan, and now endorsed by the President.

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They Do What? Where?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on May 17, 2010 at 9:48 am

Authored by Andrea Brands, Director of Public Affairs for AT&T

Andrea BrandsRecently I talked to students who took part in the national Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day about online safety and mentioned how many of their grandparents were likely online, perhaps emailing with friends, researching second careers or even looking for love through an online dating site.

They giggled, “Noooo way! They’re dating? They’re on Facebook?” The look on their faces quickly went from amusement to disappointment: now EVERYONE is getting in on the act. Is nothing sacred?

I shouldn’t have been surprised at their response. When thinking of online safety, most adults probably think only of children and how to teach them responsible use of the Internet. While kids are a significant demographic on the Internet, especially mobile broadband, more and more seniors are turning to the Internet for professional, social and life-empowering tools – and online safety is just as important for them. Statistics show that broadband usage for seniors ages 65 and older has grown from 19 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2009 – an increase of 58 percent in just one year. And as the FCC’s National Broadband Plan seeks to bring broadband capabilities to all Americans, online safety for seniors is more important than ever.

Like their children and grandchildren, this demographic is now communicating with friends and family via email and video chat, researching travel opportunities, paying bills, tracking financial information and even engaging in social media and online dating. But one of the most significant adaptations is older Americans’ use of telemedicine.

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