Thursday, June 25, 2009

Comcast, Time Warner collaborate to offer Internet TV, maybe monitor broadband use

Comcast and Time Warner Cable will soon make an announcement of a partnership tomorrow that some say is done with the intention of introducing broadband metering on all customers. A typical story is here.

But the story Smart Brief says that they are teaming up to introduce an authentication allow cable television subscribers to watch television over the web or mobile phones, link here.

Comcast and Time Warner have partnered on specific projects in the past.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do cell phone companies overcharge for texting?

Various media sources report that telecommunications companies have been raising charges for text messages out of proportion to what it costs to provide the bandwidth, to the shock of many parents of teenagers. Text charges have quadrupled in the past two years, although telecommunications companies say that the unlimited message plans have been made cheaper.

I’ve never gotten into texting or Twitter, because my social interactions just don’t move that fast. But that is how people establish themselves, it seems.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cell phones for the poor: Telecommunications companies, with government help, look at their last untapped market

Matt Richtel has an interesting article in the New York Times Business Section, Monday June 15, “Providing Cell Phones for the Poor,” link URL here. Only about 32 million Americans don’t have at least one cell phone, so the poor are the telecommunications industry’s last untried market. A twist in a federal law that used to provide the poor landline phone service can now be used to provide the poor with cell phones. Once again, we begin to see wireless service as a basic utility, particularly beneficial to residents in lower cost, more rural areas. Here is a good example of “Cato” reasoning: the marketplace provides a natural incentive to help the poor.

The June 12 digital conversion day for TV seems to have passed without a "Nevil Shute" whimper.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

AOL provides information on cable-broadband provider popularity

AOL has provided a list of the “top searched cable providers” from its own search, the number one being Comcast. Here is the link.

The consumer faces perplexing choices: a switch to another company to get an introductory combo rate can be cumbersome. What’s becoming apparent is that many people experience broadband and cable as like a basic “utility”: many more people work on their own, as consultants, and have to manage their own home of small business infrastructure (which leads to the topic yesterday, about owning your own Internet connection). There are more jobs, like home customer service agents, that require that the worker do this. So the comparison of different companies can create a critical decision.

The other important issue is availability of dependable broadband everywhere – which is still an issue in more remote areas. Generally, small communities have found that dependable broadband does help their small businesses provide more jobs. Further, broadband is going to become important in reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, as Thomas Friedman has pointed out – even if this sounds like an anti-Luddite paradox. This is still a major infrastructure priority for the new administration.

Picture: George Mason University, Fairfax VA -- admittedly the shot didn't turn out the way I hoped.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Broadband carriers do not a "cartel" make!

Rob Domanski (computer science and political science instructor from City College of New York) has a blog (“The Nerfherder”, as if from the NBC show “Chuck”) posting that shoots down a false analogy between “bandwidth cartels” like AT&T + Comcast, and oil cartels, as with OPEC. The posting comes from last summer, here.

An earlier posting from him analyzes a question from a post on the Google policy blog, “What if you could own your own Internet connection?,” also from July 2008, by Policy Analyst Derek Slater. The experiment is already going on in Ottawa, Ontario, and the analogy to owning your own connection could be like owning a personal computer in the early 1980s, the Radio Shack days (when computing was dominated by mainframes and especially IBM). Another analogy is the time it took for owning your own phone to become acceptable. It’s a pretty immodest proposal