AT&T's first quarter 2014 earnings
indicate that the telco giant posted a quarterly profit of $3.7 billion on revenues of $32.5 billion. That's obviously again thanks to wireless, with AT&T brushing off T-Mobile pesky "uncarrier" marketing push by adding 625,000 postpaid wireless subscribers -- many of which continue to be drawn by the better overall coverage of the larger two carriers. Wireless revenues jumped 7% over last year thanks largely to the company's shared data plans and their "Next" handset upgrade program. The company today stated that 46% of their wireless customers are now on plans of 10 GB or larger (whether they actually need those sized buckets isn't clear).
After Verizon managed to defeat the FCC's already fairly wimpy net neutrality rules in court earlier this year, the FCC stated they wouldn't try to reclassify ISPs under common carriers, but would try to craft new rules based on some of the same shaky legal footing that got them in trouble in the first place.
For months now FCC boss Tom Wheeler has been painfully ambiguous
about precisely what these rules will include, though Wheeler this week stated the agency will consider the new draft neutrality rules at the FCC meeting on May 15
As we reported in February, Wheeler will propose basically the same rules that the agency had tried before, but justify them under a different part of the law.
Akamai's latest State of the Internet
report notes that average United States Internet speeds have just bumped past the 10 Mbps mark -- largely due to faster DOCSIS 3.0 cable upgrades. While that's a 25% bump over last year, it's still only enough to put the United States in tenth place among all countries worldwide.
We've increasingly seen a fracturing of streaming video content as more and more companies strike exclusive deals for content, resulting in consumer confusion as to what content is available on what service. In a move that continues that trend yet expands HBO content availability at the same time, HBO has struck an exclisive deal to allow Amazon to offer older HBO series
on the company's Prime streaming service.
AT&T's 1 Gbps "Gigapower" product is currently only available in a portion of one market: Austin, Texas. At the moment users pay $70 ($100 if you don't want AT&T monetizing your browsing habits
) for 300 Mbps, though AT&T insists users will be able to get 1 Gbps service later this year.
In January of last year, unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list. It technically remains legal for you to jailbreak your phone, but you can't unlock it without carrier permission.
While Charter has left their options open
to acquire Time Warner Cable in case Comcast's attempt to acquire the company falls through, the company's consolation prize continues to be the 3 million or so customers Comcast is willing to divest to try and make regulators approve the deal. Insiders say talks are ongoing between Comcast, Charter and Time Warner Cable to offload around 3 to 5 million of the impacted customers to Charter
. Those sources claim (though the valuation seems absurdly high) the total assets being talked about are in the range of $20 billion or so. Another option still under discussion is Comcast and Time Warner Cable spinning off those users into a new company, with Charter taking a minority ownership stake.
Aereo and Broadcasters today finally square off before the Supreme Court, with broadcasters trying to shut down Aereo under the claims their live broadband TV service violates copyright. Aereo, as stated previously
, is one of several parties warning that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of broadcasters could not only threaten Aereo, but it could threaten a bevy of other technologies such as cloud DVR services
What broadcasters don’t like about Aereo – that it enables numerous users to access content that they’re entitled to access, but over the Internet – is also one of the fundamental benefits of cloud-based services. In other words, if the Supreme Court holds that Aereo is infringing for the reasons broadcasters say, then cloud computing – the innovation of remotely providing Internet users access to content they’re entitled to have – may be in jeopardy.
While the case will get a lot of coverage today, an actual ruling remains months away. Aereo says they have no plan B
should the Supreme Court not rule in their favor. Update
: You can find the full argument transcript here
(pdf) for those interested.
Shortly after Google announced Google Fiber in Austin, AT&T announced that they too would be offering 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service in the city as well (though it's currently 300 Mbps
). At the time, AT&T denied that the move was in any way motivated by Google Fiber, and that AT&T was planning all along to offer 1 Gbps connections (even if no evidence supports that claim, and millions of AT&T users are lucky to get 6 Mbps).
Roughly a month after lambasting unspecified big ISPs
for plans for "potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service," Netflix has jumped face first into the Comcast merger debate. In yesterday's letter to investors
, the company lashes out at both Comcast and AT&T for what the company calls "arbitrary interconnection tolls" now being imposed on content companies.
Comcast's first quarter 2014 earnings
were released this morning, indicating that Comcast is one of the only large cable operators not losing basic cable subscribers. According to the earnings, Comcast added 24,000 video subscribers on the quarter, the second straight quarter of customer additions, and up from the 25,000 customers the company lost this time last year. Comcast also continues to see strong broadband subscriber gains as they leech DSL users the telcos don't want and are intentionally driving to cable
-- adding 383,000 broadband subscribers on the quarter. Though growth is slowing, Comcast also added 142,000 digital voice customers on the quarter.
Earlier this month Verizon Wireless announced that the company was acquiring Cincinnati Bell's wireless spectrum, assets and customers in a deal estimated to be worth $120 million
. Now Verizon's expanding its size and scope slightly further, with two more deals in Hawaii and California. The company says they're acquiring California's Golden State Cellular and will be integrating those users over to Verizon
in the next fifteen months. Verizon's also acquiring the spectrum of Mobi PCS in Hawaii, leasing it back to them as that company "makes the transition away from being a facilities-based services provider."
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings today stated in a letter to investors
(pdf) that new Netflix streaming customers will be seeing a small rate increase very soon. "Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only," stated the CEO. According to Hastings, existing customers will be able to stay at their current rates for a "generous time period" (read: prepare for a rate hike next year). According to Hastings, the price hikes will allow Netflix to "acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience."
Two years ago wireless carriers and the government announced
that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal was to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
AT&T today announced that the company is "eyeing" 100 potential target cities as locations they may
deploy faster 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service. According to the company's press release
, this "major initiative" will target 100 "candidate cities and municipalities" across 21 metropolitan areas nationwide.
The New York Times is the latest to write a love letter to Comcast top lobbyist David Cohen
, who skirts federal lobbying rules by simply pretending not to be a lobbyist
. Cohen's currently in the middle of selling lawmakers on Comcast's $45 billion attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and the Times pays more than a little adoration towards Cohen for his lobbying skill set, while also highlighting his close fundraising ties to many of the politicians reviewing the merger.
The last few years Verizon has slowly but surely been refusing to seriously compete on price when it comes to FiOS, pulling many of their promotions while at the same time hiking prices on services wherever and whenever possible. That's especially been true in areas where the company competes with Cablevision, who has also publicly complained about having to compete on price
-- so they've effectively stopped doing so while insisting that such price competition for new users is a "dead end."
We're now seeing a little more movement on price promotions by Verizon, however.
A few years ago we noted how
a large scam ring operating in Philadelphia was offering users Comcast's entire cable TV lineup for $150...per year. The operation, which law enforcement claims cost Comcast $2.5 million in revenue, used a secret computer installed in a subcontractor's office, in addition to the IDs of subscontractors that were on disability or had been let go. Local Philly news outlets claim that the "ringleader" leader of the operation, who employed roughly two-dozen people in the operation, plead guilty last week
in a Montgomery County courtroom.
Paying off national and state politicians along with lobbyists to get your way seems like a tradition within the internet/TV business. When AT&T didn’t want competition in Wisconsin
, they paid off politicians to dress up AT&T’s view as “fiscal responsibility." When Verizon wanted to sniff out the Canadian telecom market
, they hired a slew of lobbyists to see if they could the country to change their telecom rules.
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