DoJ Effort to Block AT&T Purchase of Time Warner is Wrong, Just Wrong

Most observers now agree that the biggest single problem with 5G is the business model. Simply, a new business model must be created; sustainable value and revenues are not a given.

Many believe platforms will drive 5G business models. Others argue with equal logic that new use cases and applications beyond human use of devices will be key. Others emphasize personalized and customized content and services.  

The underlying issue is that 5G is unlikely to create substantial new value--enough to justify the investments--if it winds up being mostly faster 4G,” especially as 4G itself becomes capable of faster speeds and lower latency.

In broad industry context, the enduring problem is that internet access services increasingly are becoming commodity “dumb pipe” (low value, low profit) services, while once-central voice and messaging services continue to diminish as drivers of revenue.

The simple fact is that the industry cannot sustain itself on such business models. For tier-one service …

Study Finds Municipal and Competitive Private ISP Networks Have Lower Prices

A study of internet access prices in 23 communities where municipal internet access services are offered has found that “most community-owned FTTH networks charged less and offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.”

The comparisons were made of the entry-level services, offering 25/3 Mbps service in 2015 and 2016. In these 23 communities, prices for the lowest-cost program were between 2.9 percent and 50 percent less than the lowest-cost such service offered by a private provider.

In the other four cases, a private provider’s service cost between 6.9 percent and 30.5 percent less.

The study supports the notion that more competition--of any sort--leads to lower consumer prices, whether provided by a municipal provider or a private firm.  

The study does suggest that municipal networks do indeed lead to lower consumer prices. The study might also support t…

"Invest Where You Can Make Money," CenturyLink CFO Says

In regulated monopoly telecom markets, there is not much contradiction between investing and earning a return. That is what “guaranteed rate of return” means.
In competitive markets, investing where one can earn a return takes precedence. That has been the watchword in business customer markets for decades.
The new development is the extension of that concept in consumer markets. Pioneered by Google Fiber, the new model is to build gigabit internet access facilities, for example, initially in areas where potential demand is highest.
“Instead of focusing capital on getting broadband speeds up to 10 to 20 Mbps, you would focus your money more surgically on areas that have higher population densities and better socioeconomic demographics that are in coexistence with businesses and where wireless infrastructure might be needed to get a better return on capital,” Sunit Patel, CenturyLink CFO said. “You would focus your capital on providing much higher broadband speeds than just offering 10 …

Telecom AI: Customer Service Now, Self-Organizing Net works, Eventually

Customer service seems to be the most-visible way that machine learning (artificial intelligence) actually is used today by telecom service providers. Chat bots are used to automate customer service inquiries, route customers to the proper support or sales agents. The Spectrum Virtual Assistant provides an example.
The Angie interaction tool used by CenturyLink provides an example of an AI-powered system for generating retail sales leads.   
Atticus, an AI-powered chatbot, also is used by AT&T to provide information about TV content.
Machine learning also enables speech and voice services, such as voice remote control features. Comcast’s “X1” voice-powered remote is a good example of that.
In the network, machine learning is used for predicting network element failures.

Verizon, for its part, has integrated AI into its Exponent service aimed at other service providers, and providing a platform for internet of things, media, internet and cloud computing services provided by other se…

How Fast Does Broadband Really Have to Be?

There now is debate over whether 10 Mbps or 25 Mbps should provide the baseline minimum definition of “broadband.” Leaving aside the commercial dimensions for a moment, the 25-Mbps standard is a bit problematic, as a “one size fits all” definition.
In a larger sense, the floor does not indicate the present ceiling. In most urban areas, people can buy 100-Mbps and faster service if they want it, on fixed networks. Also, speeds only matter in relation to what people want to do with their access.
And speed does not always take care of latency issues, which for some users already is the prime performance issue.
Beyond some ever-changing point, any single user can only effectively “use” so much bandwidth. Whether that minimum is 8 Mbps or some higher number, there is a point beyond which having access to faster speeds does not improve user experience.
For mobile apps, there arguably are few, if any, routine apps used by consumers that require more than about 15 Mbps.
For fixed accounts, th…

Is Architecture Destiny?

“Architecture is destiny” is one way of looking at the ways networks are able to support--or not support--particular use cases. Coverage, latency and capacity always are key issues. So one reason low earth orbit satellite constellations are important is that such constellations potentially change architecture, changing latency and capacity constraints that traditionally have been architectural constraints for use of satellite networks as point-to-point networks.
On the other  hand, one-to-many use cases are the classic advantage of broadcast networks (TV, radio, satellite broadcasting), in terms of efficient use of capacity. It is hard to beat the cost per delivered bit advantage of any multicast (broadcast) network that is optimized for one-to-many broadcast use cases.
On the other hand, architecture also shapes other potential use cases, beyond the matter of bandwidth efficiency.
Geosynchronous satellite networks have round-trip latency of about 500 milliseconds. That means geosynchr…