Earlier this week Connecticut told AT&T it had to get a cable franchise for U-verse TV service in that state, and in response AT&T spokespeople launched a fusillade of petulant whining and vituperative bullying so unseemly it calls into question their status as adults, let alone as competent professionals.
The company threatened to "redirect to other states a significant portion of the $336 million AT&T had planned to invest in video service in Connecticut over the next three years," according to the Journal Inquirer, a local Connecticut paper. Elsewhere, a portion of that quote was attributed to AT&T regional vice president John Emra.
AT&T also threatened to eliminate more than 300 new jobs, not hire or eliminate 1,000 other jobs in Connecticut, and stop service to the 7,000 U-verse customers it now has.
And the corporate snit doesn't end there. Ramona Carlow, identified as an AT&T specialist in regulatory affairs, issued this quote: "Consumers should be outraged that just as more than 150,000 local households in more than 40 Connecticut cities and towns gained the ability to choose a video provider other than their local cable monopoly, the DPUC and attorney general have acted to protect cable monopolies by eliminating competition." The DPUC is the Connecticut regulatory agency that made the decision that U-verse is a cable TV service.
Emra was also quoted saying of the Connecticut decision, "It's just a return to the status quo. It says to consumers, 'No more choice for you.'"
It's all nonsense. Even if AT&T were to pull up stakes and leave Connecticut, taking with it its money and jobs, it's not as if it won't eventually come back. Does anyone really believe that AT&T will forego a market as big as Connecticut, chock full as it is of affluent potential customers, just because it has to fill out some additional paperwork?
It would be absurd, except for the bullying – they're going to take their money and jobs elsewhere. And then they're going to take their bat and their ball and go home. Nyeah.
Connecticut is specifically allowing AT&T to keep serving the 7,000 customers it has. All AT&T has to do is apply for a statewide cable license. That's right – it does not have to fill out hundreds of community franchises, just a single statewide license. And it has until December 31 to do it.
Cable operators no doubt can sympathize with what an overwhelming and unfair burden that must be. But I digress...
It is AT&T's choice to fill out the paperwork or not, so all the whining about ceasing to serve current customers, and killing competition, and returning to the status quo is just more blather, just another instance of AT&T's long-standing refusal to acknowledge the existence of The Dish Network and DirecTV, who together have about a 30 percent share of the pay TV market. I suspect AT&T execs might even consider behaving professionally if, in exchange, they were offered 30 percent market share.
And it's not as if AT&T's application would likely be denied, should it file one. This is all about AT&T's well-established aversion to any regulation whatsoever and its desire to avoid franchise fees. It's also about resisting any attempts to restrict it from redlining, or, as AT&T positions it, from being forced to commit to serving the entire Connecticut market.
And for pity's sake, is there a consumer anywhere who doesn't know that when any company expresses concern about consumer rights, the first thing to do is make sure your wallet is still safely in your pocket?
I have no doubt that companies apply this sort of pressure behind the scenes all the time. But is there a point to doing it in public – after the fact? After the fact, that sort of behavior is worse than unseemly – it's ineffective.
When kids throw temper tantrums like this, they get a time out.
|Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor
Belgacom extends Nokia Siemens Networks IPTV contract
Belgacom has extended its contract with Nokia Siemens Networks for the delivery and integration of an IPTV solution for another three years. Nokia Siemens Networks is also supporting Belgacom's plan to add high-definition television to its existing portfolio of interactive TV services via IP-based broadband lines. The companies began building Belgacom's IPTV network in 2004.
As part of the contract, Nokia Siemens Networks also will be delivering and integrating set-top boxes for high-definition TV into Belgacom's network.
Midwest TEL NET selects TandbergTV for HDTV IPTV
Ericsson's Tandberg Television said Midwest Tel Net will use its iPlex video processing platform to deliver a number of IPTV channels in high definition (HD) video using MPEG-4 AVC video compression. The consortium of independent operating companies (IOCs) throughout southwest and central Wisconsin will also deploy TandbergTV's RX1290 Multi-Format MPEG-4/MPEG-2 SD/HD Integrated Receiver Decoders.
TandbergTV's iPlex platform
Nighthawk buys Eagle's IPTV set-top box assets
Nighthawk Systems is picking up Eagle Broadband's IPTV set-top box business assets for $4.75 million. Nighthawk was able to fund the buyout by a $6 million sale of preferred stock. Nighthawk anticipates the existing purchase orders to produce revenues of more than $400,000 once they're completed. An unnamed hospitality industry customer represents the bulk of those orders.
Internet TV viewers on the rise
Nearly 16 percent of U.S. households with Internet access watch TV broadcasts online, according to a new report from The Conference Board and TNS. Online viewers cited personal convenience and avoiding commercials as their top two reasons for watching TV broadcasts on the Internet.
The number of Internet TV viewers who watch entire episodes of shows online has doubled in the past year. Four out of every five online viewers said that watching these programs online has not changed their TV viewing habits, but a small percentage said their traditional TV viewing has decreased.
Marco Island Cable selects GoBackTV for IPTV
Marco Island Cable in Florida has concluded a field-trial of multicast cable IPTV using the GoBackTV CMTS-bypass system and has decided to go with a commercial deployment using GoBackTV's equipment. During the trial, variable bit rate (VBR) video on multiple QAM channels was delivered to participants' television sets via off-the-shelf IP set top boxes connected to standard DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems.
Sigma, Xener team on VoIP in Asia
Sigma Systems and Korea's Xener Systems will engage in joint marketing and sales of voice over IP (VoIP) systems in Korea and the Asia Pacific. The partnership marries the former's OSS systems and the latter's softswitch technology. Xener's VoIP equipment is in use by KT, Hanaro Telecom and Korea Cable Telecom (KCT). Recently the company expanded into the enterprise IP telephony solution market with its own IP PBX and IP-Centrex solution.
House approves extension to Internet tax ban
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 405-2 in favor of extending an Internet tax moratorium forfour more years – not including VoIP. The Internet Tax Freedom Amendments Act extends themoratorium on Internet taxes and other Internet-based taxes until November 2011. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Phone enables Skype calls without a PC
Ipevo introduced a new phone, called Solo, that allows consumers to make VoIP calls through Skype without a PC. Solo users plug in the network cable, log into a Skype account, and can immediately start making calls, Ipevo said. Solo supports Skype-to-Skype, SkypeIn™, SkypeOut™ and Skype Voicemail. The Solo has an MSRP of $169.99.
Integra5 survey finds converged services boost customer retention
Integra5 conducted a survey with South Carolina provider Comporium that found TV Caller ID plays a large role in retaining customers while also causing subscribers to have a positive perception of their service provider.
The results included 25 percent of the 3,500 people who responded saying that TV Caller ID was the main reason they stuck with Comporium for their triple play bundle. The TV Caller ID users also were 30 percent more likely to rate Comporium as "great" overall than the subscribers who didn't receive the service.
The survey also found that 78 percent of the Comporium customers said they liked TV Caller ID as much as other popular types of services, including HDTV, while 71 percent reported the same for DVR.
Rogers completes second phase of wireless roll out
Rogers completed the second phase for the rollout of its 3G high-speed wireless network and services that are now available in 22 Canadian markets. The suite of services, called Rogers Vision, was introduced earlier this year in Ontario. The Vision suite of services run on Roger's new high speed packet access (HSPA) network, which Rogers claims is the fastest wireless network in Canada.
Level 3 buys BellSouth fiber from AT&T
Level 3 Communications purchased several fiber network assets from AT&T the latter was compelled to divest to get approval for its merger with BellSouth. Level3 now has the rights for dark fiber connections to 27 buildings, as well as more than 450 metro fiber route miles in the nine markets where AT&T was required to divest assets—Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Charlotte,N.C.;Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn.; and Jacksonville, Orlando and SouthFlorida.
FiOS Internet to fuel Trump's buildings
Verizon's FiOS Internet service will give The Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza and Trump Park Avenue speeds of up to 50 Mbps. Trump said he is working with Verizon to bring FiOS to all of his properties. The FiOS service is currently offered in parts of 16 states.
Hawaiian Telcom chooses Telcordia for MPLS network
Hawaiian Telcom has deployed Telcordia's Granite Inventory to automate the provisioning of high-speed DSL services over its MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, which allows the operator to offer DSL services at speeds up to 11 Mbps. Nine weeks ago, Hawaiian Telcom selected Telcordia's Fulfillment Suite to support its new MPLS-based IP services, including the provisioning of IP VLANs, DSL over IP and other future IP-based services.
AOL to cut one-fifth of global work force
The slow but inexorable erosion of Time Warner's AOL unit appears to be continuing apace. The operation will eliminate 2,000 jobs as part of an ongoing restructuring, according to Reuters, which said it got its information from an internal AOL document.
Claim to Fame: A supplier of IP-based products used on the Web; it's most notable line is a set of products that work with Skype's VoIP service.
Recent News of Note: Introduced a phone that allows users to make Skype calls without a PC.