Broadband customers love the message, hate the messenger

People in the U.S. love big shopping, food and consumer electronics brands, but are not high on utility, telecommunications and food delivery companies and banks. That’s one take-away from the spring 2017 edition of the list of “America’s most loved brands” by Morning Consult. What was published was only a partial list – intended to draw you in and sign you up for their service – but even so it offers some interesting insights into the way consumers view the companies and industries that compete for their affections.… More

California's telecoms playing field takes a tiny tilt towards level

5 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’s all the same.

The California Public Utilities Commission took a small, but significant, step towards treating all telecoms companies the same on Thursday. Cable and telephone companies, mobile carriers and any other communication service provider will now be subject to the same kind of safety enforcement procedures as other public utilities.

The commission [voted to allow enforcement staff to issue citations to any communications company]() that violates the safety rules that govern how utility poles, wires and cables, antennas, cabinets and other infrastructure in the public right of way is installed and maintained.… More

CPUC votes to let telcos fine themselves, keep the money

23 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Miss me yet?

In the most cynical decision I’ve ever seen the California Public Utilities Commission make, telephone companies will be allowed to pay fines to themselves, if they fail to meet service quality standards.

Fines, it seems, are just another cost of doing business for telecoms companies and don’t matter anyway. So why not let them keep the money?

Boiled down, that’s CPUC president Michael Picker’s rationale for establishing new telephone voice service level requirements backed up by a swingeing schedule of penalties and then saying but we’ll let you keep the money if you invest it in infrastructure or pay staff.More

Broadband competition beats stagnation and regulation

12 June 2013 by Steve Blum
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Don’t fence me in.

There’s nothing new about local governments getting into the utilities business. Nearly all waste water utilities and many (most?) water utilities are publicly owned and managed, either by a primary agency (i.e. city or county) or a special district or equivalent. Plenty of publicly owned electric and solid waste utilities are around too.

So long as the go/no-go decision is made by the taxpayers involved – indirectly by representative government or directly by vote, as they prefer – it’s little different from a corporation and its shareholders deciding to commit capital.… More

Get out of town to see new broadband horizons

One trend to watch for in 2013 is consolidation and growth in rural broadband in the U.S. AT&T and Verizon are backing – sometimes running full speed – away from the wireline business in less densely populated markets. That's an opportunity for entrepreneurs with rural telecoms experience to create their own kind of economies of scale.

Frontier Communications is well down that road, with five million phone lines under its management nationwide. Like Google, Surewest is looking to Kansas as a growth opportunity.… More

User-financed FTTP fails in a competitive market

Palo Alto user financed FTTP study

A user-financed, municipal fiber-to-the-premises broadband system would be a financial nightmare if launched into a market with mainstream competition, even if it’s subsidized and supported by a profitable city-owned utility.

That’s the finding of a study presented to the City of Palo Alto’s Utility Advisory Commission last night by Tellus Venture Associates. The report assessed the financial potential of user-financed municipal FTTP options, including upfront payments ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, substantial capital contributions by the City and ongoing subsidies of up to $2,000,000 per year.… More

3G networks reach deep into Australia and New Zealand

Travelling through New Zealand and Australia with a smart phone or iPad is painless and relatively inexpensive for a traveller. Three national mobile networks – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – cover Australia. Optus also markets service under the Virgin Mobile brand. In New Zealand, it’s Telecom NZ and Vodafone, with newcomer 2degrees building out its network.

My assessment of actual coverage is subjective. I used Vodafone in both countries, and Telstra in Australia. Vodafone NZ and Telstra do a very good job of covering the areas I visited: long swathes of both North and South Islands in New Zealand, and Melbourne, Adelaide and the countryside in between in Australia.… More

Mobile telecoms companies lead consumer electronics innovation

Consumers expect the devices they buy to be connected to their content collections, personal data, interpersonal communications and the Internet and other external data sources. That’s why innovation at CES is coming from companies that wouldn’t even have been considered part of the industry a few years ago.

Since Apple launched the iPhone and followed it up with the iPad, mobile telecommunications manufacturers and core technology providers have been driving profound changes in the consumer electronics business.… More