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AT&T, DirecTV, FCC, Bouygues, Apple: Telco 2.0 News Review

AT&T: we need DirecTV because U-Verse failed, like Telco 2.0 said; US customers hate cable, but not as much as they hate telcos; key data on the Verizon/Netflix row

AT&T’s official filing to the SEC, setting out reasons why it should be allowed to acquire DirecTV, is sensational, Ars Technica reports. The original document is available here. In it, CSO John Stankey as good as confesses that U-Verse just isn’t good enough, that too much of the revenue is leaking away to the content providers, and that the broadband isn’t much cop either. He seems distinctly worried about Google Fiber, and also concerned that increasing numbers of customers just aren’t that into TV. Meanwhile, not only do the cablecos have better TV, but they have much better broadband:

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These are essentially exactly the conclusions we arrived at in the Telco 2.0 Transformation Index and its component AT&T In-Depth Report. We have recently published a new Executive Briefing, Triple Play in the USA, covering developments in the US fixed market in detail.

He argues that buying DirecTV would permit a better TV offering, and more interestingly, that it would strengthen the economics of GigaPower, their fledgling FTTH product, permitting them to roll out substantially more fibre. He also promises that a combined company would launch a fixed-wireless LTE broadband service for its rural markets. Interestingly, he argues that the existing synthetic bundle of AT&T wireless service and DirecTV broadcast is a bit of a disaster too.

In the meantime, AT&T is putting up its one-off activation fee by $4. A spokesperson said this was because so many customers were activating a new phone under their quick-upgrade plan.

Benoit Felten points us to this Washington Post article, which shows polling suggesting that 53% of Americans would change to a different cable operator if there was competition. The Post frames the story as being about how awful cable is, but we think the more interesting point is how bad the telco competition must be if they can’t get them to churn.

Although Netflix and Verizon have settled their dispute, it turns out that the Verizon peering upgrades Netflix is paying for won’t be ready for another eight months, while Comcast’s engineers turn out to have been coordinating with Netflix well before the deal was actually announced.

Netflix, for its part, is keen to talk about its “streaming science”, but what about this must-read post from Dan Rayburn? Rayburn points out that Netflix paying for carriage is nothing new, because after all it historically always used multiple CDNs, right up until it decided to take its CDN in-house - and measurements of end-user speed take a dive right then.


Well, at least they didn’t fall over on the first night of the World Cup. ReadWriteWeb compares the online TV hardware.

FCC calls in peering after Netflix-Verizon; should wireless be net-neutral? Pre-empting the states on muni-fibre; decoupled roaming in practice

Speaking of the Netflix-Verizon and Netflix-Comcast rows, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced that the regulator is going to examine Internet peering. Wheeler’s statement, which frames the issue as one of net neutrality in the meaning of the Open Internet Order, is here.

Meanwhile, the FCC is also seeking public comments on whether it should include wireless in its effort to redraft the OIO. James Hamilton, of AWS fame but blogging in a personal capacity, argues strongly in favour of net neutrality and encourages readers to write to the FCC.

Elsewhere, although the US is about to release more than 100MHz of fresh spectrum in about a year, Republican senator Marco Rubio is introducing an act to demand more of it.

Chattanooga’s municipal fibre network can’t expand further because Tennessee is one of the states that has a law against municipal fibre. Wheeler says the FCC is ready to use its powers to pre-empt the states on this issue.

And the EU’s next lot of roaming regs is coming, and the 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog has a good presentation on the technical implementation of “decoupled roaming”.

Vodafone after Forthnet, deploys Italian LTE, buys connected car co; Bouygues-Orange is off; Viacloud is dead; Sprint sits out AWS-3

Vodafone is bidding jointly with Wind Hellas to buy Forthnet, Greece’s main alternative fixed operator and the owner of a pay-TV network, Nova. At the same time, Vodafone Italy is promising to deploy LTE to another 100 towns every month, aiming to reach 90% population coverage by 2016, with 95% coverage on HSPA+.

Voda has also acquired Cobra Automotive, an Italian company that provides telematics services for connected-car and fleet tracking applications. Yours for €145m.

Atos is floating its Worldline payments unit on the Paris stock market, hoping to raise €2.4bn. It will be interesting to see if there is tech/telecoms interest.

Bouygues’ talks with Orange have collapsed, and the operator is going to cut 1,500 jobs, having lost €19m in Q1. They also promised “very aggressive pricing” in broadband.

Viacloud was an interesting company, a so-called “MVNA” (the A is aggregator) that was in some ways like a workshop for tailored MVNOs, which sat in EE’s UK network. This week, the company has gone into liquidation. According to Mobile News, it has failed to secure any customers except for two in-house MVNOs.

Sprint may sit out the AWS-3 spectrum auction, on the grounds that it needs low-band spectrum more. RCRWireless points out that VZW is on the record as saying it has all the 700MHz it needs, so there’s scope for a tacit deal.

And Telefonica has started selling some of its enterprise customers electricity and energy services.

The good thing about standards is that there are so many - EU now has two 5G centres; Qualcomm small cell chips; Airvana cloud-RAN; Brocade goes for SDN with Vyatta

The 5G Infrastructure Association, a group of European vendors and telcos, has signed a MoU with South Korea’s 5G Forum to cooperate on developing the next lot of mobile network standards. Interestingly, or perhaps depressingly, the UK government’s 5G Innovation Centre seems to be doing the same sort of thing, just with a completely non-overlapping list of members. Fortunately, one of them is Samsung.

Qualcomm has launched a new line of chips for 4G small cells, specifically ones targeted at small business or “neighbourhood” applications. Samples are expected some time this year, and the devices should provide LTE and WLAN for 16 concurrent users with 100mW power.

Here’s an interesting discussion about the problems of urban small cells.

Airvana has a new small cell for multi-operator indoor deployments, based on so-called Cloud-RAN technology.

The Small Cells Forum has issued another lot of standards, notably covering interoperability in het-nets and the API for edge-caching and location-based applications.

Brocade is getting into network virtualisation, and has picked the Vyatta network-appliance distribution of Linux.

Firefox gadgets, not going anywhere unless GSMA twists arms? What if Apple’s WWDC was really about gaming? Those Microsoft Android patents

Is Firefox OS doomed? RadioFreeMobile thinks so, arguing that the (rather impressive) Spreadtrum SC6821 chip in the new reference design doesn’t leave enough of a margin for the vendors to make money unless they get a minimum commitment of 10 million gadgets. The problem is that there is no reason to think the carriers will pre-finance so many of the things.

That said, Firefox OS apps can now be packaged for use on Android.

Horace argues that WWDC was like a conference on concrete attended by Architectural Digest writers. Here’s a blog arguing, cogently, that the incremental improvements across iOS and OS X add up to big and important change, notably from a gaming point of view. The combination of app extensions and the peer-to-peer version of AirPlay is especially important.

Ars Technica has a comprehensive history of Android.

The list of patents Microsoft claims to hold over Android has been disclosed in China. One of them at least seems to patent the whole of UMTS and LTE. And Microsoft’s right to use the name Nokia on smartphones is drawing to a close.

Here’s a good discussion of what Apple might do with the iPhone 5c. Is this a new twist on their tried strategy of using the older iPhones as the low-end options?

Google releases ultra-hip cloud technology; Microsoft spending hard on data centres; CDNs unite to fight DDOS; why Google bought Skybox

Google has released its internal containerisation tool, Kubernetes, as open-source software. The name means “helmsman” in classical Greek and is of course the derivation of the word “cybernetics”. The tool has been rewritten to integrate with Docker, and has the interesting feature that it can do job-routing and load-balancing not just across machines or groups of machines, but across multiple clouds.

Microsoft is spending $350m on more data centres in northern Virginia. Between the data centres, Level(3) is buying TWTelecom.

CDN operator CloudFlare is organising Project Galileo, which aims to protect “political and artistic” Web sites from denial of service attacks, by pooling the service and blackholing resources of major CDNs.

Amazon Web Services adds Windows Phone and Baidu to its Simple Notifications Service.

Google has acquired a company that both operates and makes satellites, Skybox. Here’s a good discussion of why.

1st VoLTE roaming calls; Twilio numbers accept SMS; review of a webinar tool

KT and China Mobile claim to have demonstrated the first VoLTE roaming calls.

Twilio has added SMS receive capability to its toll-free numbers, and here’s an example of how to use them.

Fring and Bouygues Telecom. Nice app!

Here’s a review of 3CX’s WebMeeting.

DTAG joins Vodafone in publishing lawful intercept requests

Last week it was Vodafone publishing a big list of all the snooping; now DTAG has done so, although with regard to Germany only.

A “contractor” to AT&T filched customer records in order to unlock stolen devices. DuckDuckGo is riding its post-Snowden inflection higher and higher. Some AT&T thinking on mobile security. Don’t have nightmares.

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