31 August 2006

Telecom usage in the EU

The EU's DG Information Society recently released this, which reports the results of a household survey of communications usage within the EU. There are many interesting things to be found in this report. You might enjoy comparing the results of this survey with those of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

One thing that caught my eye was the response to Question 9 (p. 13), which was an exploration of the reasons why a household might not have a fixed line ... 38% cited mobile service that serves the needs of the household, and 30% said they did not want a fixed line.

So, enjoy your reading ... what did you find interesting in this report? Why?

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29 August 2006

Verizon, AT&T and the USF

This article does a nice job summarizing a debate that has been going on in telecom policy circles over the past month or so (this is another related item). One interesting thing about the universal service fee is that the FCC never required telcos to separately itemize this fee ... they chose to do so. Now, with its elimination for DSL, it becomes obvious to consumers who take the time to look at their bills.

Do you think Verizon's ability to retain the revenues from this fee (basically increase prices by the amount of the fee) is evidence of significant market power? Do you think that Verizon is within their rights to do this, or do you think it is an abuse of regulatory relief? Do you think that the FCC (or another government agency) should take action? If so, what should they do?

Update: On 30 August 2006, Verizon agreed to drop this "surcharge" (see this article, for example). If Verizon claimed to require these revenues to support their network upgrades, where do you think they will find them now? Is there a connection to network neut* here?

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28 August 2006

Internet consolidation since 2001

In this post, Om Malik summarizes some of the internet backbone consolidation that has taken place since 2001. While this includes some of the high profile mergers (Verizon and MCI, SBC and AT&T), it also includes some smaller ones.

How is this consolidation related to network neutrality? Do you think that the backbone market has relatively low barriers to entry (i.e., is contestable, even if it is more concentrated)?

On a side note, the beginning of this semester marks the one year anniversary of this blog! It has been fun ...

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21 August 2006

Broadband in Germany

There have been a number of interesting items over the past week that I will be bringing up over the next few days. The first of these is this item in BusinessWeek (and this one in the Washington Post). This policy, which requires the carriers in the EU to open their broadband networks to resellers, stands in contrast to the current policy in the US, one that has been addressed both by the FCC and the US Supreme Court.

Which approach do you think is right? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the EU approach? Is there a middle ground that you would recommend?

Update: In this article, Tom Hazlett argues that these rules inhibit innovation and investment. Do you agree with him?

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09 August 2006

History of Common Carriage in Telecommunications

Thanks to Bob Cannon, Prof. Jones' classic article on the History of Common Carriage in Telecommunications is now available on line. Common carriage has been one of the key ideas in telecommunications policy, and is one that regularly reemerges in telecom policy discussions. Happy reading!

Sprint Nextel, WiMax and 4G

There were a couple of articles about Sprint Nextel and their investment in WiMax. The first is this article in Forbes, in which they report that Sprint is treating this as their 4G technology (Forbes also published this interview with Gary Forsee, CEO of Sprint Nextel). Om Malik went a little further in his analysis yesterday, in which he cited Qualcomm's licensing fees as a factor (he continued in this post).

Update: This article is a nice supplement to the above resources.

Do you think that WiMax has the potential to serve as an alternative to a cell-based 4G network? Do you think that Sprint Nextel's move will put pressure on Qualcomm to reduce their licensing fees?

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03 August 2006

Secondary use and Sprint-Nextel

As many of you know, secondary spectrum use is a current research theme that I am pursuing. So, this article is of significant interest. Sprint/Nextel has been aggressively pursuing Type 1 secondary use ... often known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) strategy. This article suggests that they are less successful in this than they might be. Is this because the strategy is flawed, or because their partners are weak, or because secondary use is less attractive as a result of the upcoming spectrum auctions? We'll know the answer to the latter if the MVNO partners become spectrum owners ...

Update: On a side note, this article raises questions about how potential network neut* rules would apply to MVNOs. Do you think they should? Should any network neut* rules be applied only to the Internet? If so, aren't we setting up technlogically-based regulation that convergence is fated to make obsolete?

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01 August 2006

Upcoming spectrum auctions

In case you have missed it, the FCC is about to auction off a fairly large chunk of spectrum. This article in Forbes does a good job in summarizing the auction and the business aspects of wireless in the past several years.

Do you think that the government should be concerned with the financial fortunes of the major carriers when deciding when and how much spectrum to auction? What services do you think will emerge? What is the prospect of secondary markets or secondary spectrum use as a result of these auctions?

Update: Om Malik reports that this spectrum will be going for less than previous spectrum ... something about supply and demand?

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GSM vs. CDMA, again

As you should know by now, standards wars are longstanding area of interest of mine. While not a classic standards war, the technology rivalry between GSM and CDMA has captured both my interest and the interest of some of my doctoral students (see, for example, this item, and also this one). Thus, when this article came to my attention, I was moved to bring this technology rivalry up again.

Do you think this is largely a concern for 2G (and 2.5G) networks? Is this article at all relevant to 3G networks? If you are a CDMA user, have you considered switching to a GSM network because of the technology? If so, why?

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