To win the 5G marketing wars, AT&T has decided to brand portions of its LTE network as “5G Evolution.” These portions of AT&T’s network have received speed-boosting upgrades and should be faster than typical LTE, but AT&T isn’t doing anything that other carriers haven’t already implemented. And these are still, by definition, LTE technologies — not 5G ones. So this is exclusively about marketing, not about improving your phone.
According to the latest Broadband Progress Report from the FCC, 4% of all Americans — and only 2% of people in Washington state — lack access to even the most basic non-mobile broadband service. But Seth’s story makes us wonder how many consumers are being counted as having access to these services when in fact the service providers refuse to make them available?
That’s why it’s in the best interest of Comcast, CenturyLink and others to assume an address is serviceable just because it falls within a certain ZIP code or municipal boundary — because it gives the illusion that they are providing service to more customers.
Consider this: A single fiber-optic strand the diameter of a human hair can carry 101.7 terabits of data per second, enough to support nearly every Netflix subscriber watching content in HD at the same time. And while technology has improved and capacity has increased, costs have continued to decline. A few more shelves of equipment might be needed in the buildings that house interconnection points, but broadband itself is as limitless as its uses.
We’ll never realize broadband’s potential if large ISPs erect a pay-to-play system that charges both the sender and receiver for the same content. That’s why we at Netflix are so vocal about the need for strong net neutrality, which for us means ISPs should enable equal access to content without favoring, impeding, or charging particular content providers. Those practices would stunt innovation and competition and hold back the broader development of the Internet and the economic benefits it brings.
This is the reason we have opposed Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Comcast has already shown the ability to use its market position to require access fees, as evidenced by the Netflix congestion that cleared up as soon as we reached an agreement with them. A combined company that controls over half of US residential Internet connections would have even greater incentive to wield this power.
He led off by agreeing with the several executive speakers that true competition is the way of the future, and the best way to serve consumers. “But we haven’t given competition the chance it needs,” he continued, before referring to how poorly U.S. broadband compares on the global stage. “We have fallen so far short that we should be ashamed of ourselves. We should be leading, and we’re not. We need to get serious about broadband, we need to get serious about competition, we need to get serious about our country.”
Throughout the country, companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and Verizon have signed agreements with cities that prohibit local governments from becoming internet service providers and prohibit municipalities from selling or leasing their fiber to local startups who would compete with these huge corporations.
The FCC classifies broadband (such as FiOS) as an information service under Title I of the Communications Act, resulting in less strict rules than the ones applied to common carrier services (such as the traditional phone system) under Title II. But since both services are delivered over the same wire, Verizon FiOS is able to reap the benefits of utility regulation without the downsides.
“The companies’ affiliates have acted together and have taken control of the customer-funded wires and networks, which are Title II, in multiple ways that allow the company to control both the end-user connection—speed, access, and use of the Internet—as well as the competitor side of attaching to the wire and delivering services to the end users,” Kushnick wrote in an e-mail. “We will be asking for the FCC to open the networks to all forms of competition because customers paid for it and they are Title II, and because the affiliate companies have created a bottleneck that controls the wires and blocks competitors.”
That leaves the remaining six peers with congestion on almost all of the interconnect ports between us. Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity. They are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers. They are not allowing us to fulfil the requests their customers make for content.
Five of those congested peers are in the United States and one is in Europe. There are none in any other part of the world. All six are large Broadband consumer networks with a dominant or exclusive market share in their local market. In countries or markets where consumers have multiple Broadband choices (like the UK) there are no congested peers.
Shouldn’t a broadband consumer network with near monopoly control over their customers be expected, if not obligated, to deliver a better experience than this?
Sports venues used to be a prime market for carrier WiFi deployments, until the business case started to get murky. Whereas carriers used to write off stadium deployments as the cost of doing business, now they are losing interest. And, if they are involved, most are opting for tried-and-true distributed antenna systems (DAS), rather than WiFi or small cell deployments.
The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted in favor of trials, in which telecommunications companies would test switching telephone services from existing circuit-switch technology to an alternative Internet protocol-based one to see how the change may affect consumers.
Tracy King, AT&T’s vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Google “appears to be demanding concessions never provided any other entity before.”
“Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers,” she said.
Google qualifies as an Internet Service Provier (ISP) and not a telecom or cable provider. AT&T’s poles reside in public rights of ways.