"Can't See Forest for Trees" Problem

It is perhaps an understatement to say that “5G” has business model issues. We often think of such challenges in terms of revenue, profit and value, but there is more. Many would argue that the upside to 5G will come from new applications and use cases substantially related to use of such networks by machines, servers and sensors, not human beings connecting smartphones, PCs, tablets, TVs or personal devices.
There is a perhaps-larger understanding of internet of things to play out over the next couple of decades, involving business processes that happen without direct human intervention.
That is significant, not only because the incremental revenues mobile operators can create will happen because sensors and computers need to retrieve data and analyze it, and not primarily because humans will want to talk, text, access the internet or watch video.
source: Bill Harpley
Sure, we all hear phrases such as “fourth industrial revolution” that are built on the changes. But that does not actu…

FTC Has Argued for a "Wait and See" Policy on Net Neutrality

The end of common carrier regulation of internet access returns oversight over internet access services to the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees, with the Department of Justice, antitrust matters and consumer protection.
It is worth noting, though the fact is rarely mentioned in reporting on the change, that the specific change made by the FCC is the end of Title II common carrier regulation of internet access.
Under “normal” circumstances, virtually all providers in the communications business would prefer lighter-touch regulation to common carrier regulation, so support for that change is hardly unusual.
The end of common carrier regulation is said to represent the end of “network neutrality.” That is a complicated matter. In principle, the change means that consumer internet access once again becomes a lightly-regulated data service.
Since common carrier regulation was used as the justification for imposing “best effort only” (first in, first out) handling of consumer intern…

Why Net Neutrality Discussion is So Difficult

There is a good reason why some find the “network neutrality” discussion so frustrating.
“The most confounding aspect of the contemporary net neutrality discussion to me is the social meanings that the concept has taken on,” says Gus Hurwitz, a professor at the Nebraska College of Law.
“These meanings are entirely detached from the substance of the debate, but have come to define popular conceptions of what net neutrality means,” Hurwitz notes. “They are, as best I can tell, wholly unassailable, in the sense that one cannot engage with them.”
“The most notable aspect is that net neutrality has become a social justice cause,” says Hurwitz. “Progressive activist groups of all stripes have come to believe that net neutrality is essential to and allied with their causes.”
One might argue that such weaponization of an issue is unfortunate. Network neutrality “raises important questions about the nature of regulation and the administrative state in complex technical settings,” he adds.

AT&T Expects to Have 12.5 Million New FTTH Passings by Mid-2019

AT&T says it now markets its AT&T Fiber (fiber to the home) service to more than seven million locations across 67 metropolitan areas and 21 states.
AT&T plans to reach at least 12.5 million locations by mid-2019. In part, some will argue, that deployment is driven by terms of the Federal Communications Commission clearance of the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV.
Deal approval includes the obligation to deploy optical fiber to 12.5 million new homes. Some might argue (rightly, perhaps) that AT&T will have to stretch to hit that target.
Iit has taken roughly four years to add seven million locations. AT&T has to add 5.5 million more connections in less than two more years. What that means for AT&T’s capital investment budget is clear: it has had to boost capex beyond prior years.
Some have argued that reaching that level of fiber-to-home household coverage would be difficult. But AT&T has boosted its capex beyond former levels, now spending about $6 billion a …

Video Entertainment "Market" Now Smashes Separate Regulatory Walls between "Content and Apps" and "Delivery"

The new move by T-Mobile US video streaming business is portrayed by the company itself, and news reports, as representing competition with cable TV.
“The Un-carrier will build TV for people who love TV but are tired of the multi-year service contracts, confusing sky-high bills, exploding bundles, clunky technologies, outdated UIs, closed systems and lousy customer service of today’s traditional TV providers,” said John Legere, T-Mobile US CEO.
A few reports correctly described the service as a streaming offer more akin to over-the-top services offered by AT&T, Dish Network, YouTube and Netflix.
But that might be quite the point. T-Mobile US itself describes its move as representing a move into the $100 billion revenues subscription TV market dominated by cable and telco suppliers.
““We’re in the midst of the Golden Age of TV, and yet people have never been more frustrated by the status quo created by Big Cable and Satellite TV,” said Mike Sievert, Chief Operating Officer of T-Mob…

AT&T Expands AirGig Trials

AT&T has launched an international trial of its Project AirGig access technology, and also has launched a second trial in the United States.
Unlike a “data over power line” system, AirGig does not actually use the power conductor, but only travels along the exterior of a power line. 
 AirGig, it is hoped, could deliver internet access speeds well over one gigabit per second using a millimeter wave (mmWave) signal guided by power lines. If so, internet access facilities would not require new towers or cables, but would be able to piggyback on existing electrical distribution lines. 
 The first international trial started earlier in 2017 with an electricity provider outside the United States The second U.S. trial recently started in Georgia with Georgia Power. While this trial is located in a rural area, AirGig could be deployed in many areas not served by high speed broadband today – rural, suburban, or urban, AT&T says.

Network Effects Explain Oligopolistic Structure of the Internet

Oligopolies (functional, rather than enforced by law) now are a key characteristic of most parts of the internet ecosystem. In other words, there are functional "gatekeepers" across most of the ecosystem.
That "winner take all" structure might emerge as the natural consequence of consumer choices, supplier skill and timing.
The biggest driver, though, is that some markets have "network effect" characteristics. That is why the "platform" role is so desirable.
Platforms benefit from scale, and grow with increasing scale. That arguably applies for operating systems, access services, devices and apps/
So most markets with scale economics and network effects arguably develop in the same way.
The point is that markets where winners are able to exploit network effects virtually always leads to oligopoly outcomes. Regulators can break up such markets, but to the extent that network effects actually matter, concentration always will reoccur.
In the appl…