As the FCC today prepares to vote to begin eliminating the rules governing in-flight cell phone calls, new FCC boss Wheeler continues to defend his push to a public that isn't particularly pleased with the idea of a chattier cabin. Wheeler already explained
that with data now showing devices don't interfere with aircraft, the FCC's role as a technology-based agency is done -- and it's now up to the FAA and airlines to govern the social implications of in-flight cell calls.
Apparently feeling that wasn't enough given the width and breadth of user disgust, Wheeler issued another statement yesterday
defending the elimination of the rules, strongly suggesting the FCC won't be backing down from the move no matter how much people cry:
In a statement Wednesday, Wheeler said that he understands “the consternation caused by the thought of your onboard seatmate disturbing the flight making phone calls. I do not want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else. But we are not the Federal Courtesy Commission."
After the FCC officially changes the rules, this could go any of several directions.
The rule elimination would allow cellular carriers to charge users exorbitant per minute rates (something they've been pushing for for years), but those rates are so high that the vast majority of flyers won't want to pay them (unless they just use VoIP via Wi-Fi). There's also the possibility that the FAA or airlines themselves will ban phone calls in flight for the sake of a more peaceful cabin (unless they decide to charge you a new fee if you want to sit in a "phone call free area").
Private-equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP has managed to swoop in and thwart Dish's attempted acquisition of LightSquared with a possible last minute offer for the beached LTE provider. According to the Wall Street Journal
, Centerbridge has proposed paying roughly $3.3 billion plus another $1.7 billion in various liabilities, though anonymous sources state the deal could still fall apart at the last second. Centerbridge's acquisition is likely speculative in nature, with hopes to sell the acquired LightSquared spectrum to the deepest pocketed carrier available. Dish had hoped to use the spectrum to build their own LTE network, despite its history of interference with GPS services
by Revcb 07:25AM Thursday Dec 12 2013
Verizon is currently in the process of using the AWS spectrum obtained at auction in 2008 to supplement the company's existing LTE deployment, which should result in improved capacity and overall speeds for users in many markets. Speaking at an investor conference this week, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam confirmed New York (their most heavy usage market) is the first to see the upgrades
, where he admits a dozen of some 300 cell sites have been suffering capacity issues. According to McAdam, Verizon intends to augment its LTE network in 50 different cities with AWS spectrum during the first half of 2014. McAdam insisted Verizon's LTE capacity constraints were a "short-term blip" and that "we're now back to where we want to be."
According to Twenty-First Century Fox CEO Chase Carey, the consumer demand for a la carte TV programming options is a "farce," and existing TV bundles provide all the value consumers need. "It’s a farce" and "a la carte isn't the answer," Carey told attendees of an investment conference this week
. "The bundle is still a great proposition for the consumer when you compare it to the a world of $5 lattes and cell phone bills," Carey said. Farce is an upgrade from last summer, when Carey proclaimed a la carte TV to be a "fantasy
." In both instances Carey seemed to ignore the fact folks like Carey have spent the last ten years fighting
not only a la carte pricing, but any
substantive creative price movement on channel bundles and TV content.
Annoyed with the amount of press Google has been getting for disrupting the U.S. broadband market (even if the reality of that disruption is limited in scope
), cable operator Mediacom has launched a new initiative dubbed Gigabit+
AT&T has officially announced that the company's first 1 Gbps fiber to the home users (who'll initially see 300 Mbps until next year) have come online in Austin. The "GigaPower" service was announced one day after Google Fiber announced they were coming to Austin
, though AT&T to this day Google Fiber played no role in this announcement.
As we noted yesterday
, Sprint has launched their new "Spark" LTE network upgrade in Chicago, which combines the company's 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz LTE spectrum to provide more capacity and faster speeds to users -- if you have a triband device. Sprint has previously claimed these upgrades would provide users with real world speeds of 50-60 Mbps, though CEO Dan Hesse has decided to up the ante.
DirecTV may announce streaming TV ambitions at an investor conference later this week insists Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet
. "If management does unveil this platform, we expect limited testing in 2014 and rollout to ethnic niches and/or multi-dwellings shortly thereafter," Bazinet said. "If deployment proceeds smoothly and data caps don't restrict rollout, we could see broader U.S. deployment in the future." Reports last month suggested
DirecTV was considering a Aereo-like service as a way to battle soaring retransmission fees, which the company called "not sustainable."
AT&T last week unveiled their new mobile share value plans
, aimed at getting users off contract and driving them to larger, more expensive data plans. The service was in response to T-Mobile, though AT&T continues to insist that T-Mobile is having no effect on their pricing strategies.
by Revcb 08:41AM Wednesday Dec 11 2013
Sprint today announced that the company's faster "Spark" LTE upgrades have gone live in Chicago. Last month Sprint announced
they'd be combining the company's 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz LTE spectrum to provide what Sprint promises will be real-world downstream speeds of 50-60 Mbps.
One year after launching a limited beta, NimbleTV
today announced that they've launched their live streaming TV service in the New York City market. New York residents can head here
to sign up for the service, which allows users to watch live TV on a variety of mobile devices and set tops.
Calculating the impact of shifting an entire industry to an a la carte TV pricing model is probably impossible, but that doesn't stop investment analysts Needham and Co. from trying. story continues..
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea
of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
For years story continues..
competitors have complained about AT&T and Verizon cornering the special access market, allowing them to jack up prices on competitors for backhaul and other cross connectivity. For just about as long, the FCC has stated they'd investigate
the potential anti-competitive ramifications, with nothing much coming of it.
Verizon this week once again put a nail in the coffin of any chance of FiOS expansion anytime soon -- if ever. "...There might be a couple of things on the fringe (but) going in and digging up yards and deploying fiber in a lot of new markets isn't in the cards," Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told investors at this week's Annual Global Media & Communications Conference
. "More and more things are going mobile and I think there are more opportunities to partner out of market with companies that are there vs. us going in and deploying FiOS." Read: we'd prefer to partner with cable
so they sell our wireless service than deploy any more fixed-line broadband ourselves.
Last month AT&T and Verizon shareholders pressured the two companies into detailing their cooperation with the NSA
, arguing that their relationship with the agency harmed consumer trust, and therefore the companies as a whole. AT&T's response to those investors? It's none of your business. In a letter sent to investors this week
, AT&T stated that its dealings with the NSA were "ordinary business matters" not subject to shareholder approval, and that "protecting customer privacy is a management function" not involving shareholders. As such, AT&T says they'd prefer it if any mention of the NSA was excluded from the ballot for AT&T’s annual shareholder meeting next spring.
According to the New York Times
, the nation's largest TV provider and ISP (Comcast) has hired the nation's largest bank (JPMorgan Chase) to advise on a possible bid for Time Warner Cable. The deal, which could be worth upwards of $40 billion, likely wouldn't make it past regulators concerned with Comcast's growing vertical integration. Last week Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai stated he didn't think the current FCC would approve such a deal
, and sources have suggested that a joint bid between Charter and Comcast -- used as a way to ease regulatory concerns -- wasn't something Comcast executives were interested in.
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