Bells: Lets change the broadband policy


The Telecommunications Act of 1996, however crappy it was, it worked well for the Bells. It allowed them to sell long distance services, a hardball business that was only IXCs to lose. Still doing their thing, the bells slowly saw off the competition from CLECs (many of them deserved to die for they were based on greed and dumb money.) The as the bust accelerated, the UNE-P rules were seen off, and then the Bells got the right to build brand new networks and did not have to share with them. In other words, with carefully spent lobbying dollars, and masterful business/political strategy, Bells got whatever they wanted.

Till recently, when they met their match in local governments. The locals quickly dispatched the Bells state-wide video franchise plans, and Bells know this is a battle they cannot win easily. So what do they do? Wave Stars and Stripes, plead nationalism and cry… big bad broadband policy makers are pushing us down the broadband ladder. So lets change the national policies! Boohoo!

Why do I bring this up? Verizon Executive Vice President Thomas J. Tauke was today out saying we need a new national broadband policy (which locals cannot control) and reform of the video franchise process is important for consumers and the future of broadband.

“There remains a real disconnect between the broadband market and broadband policy,” Tauke said. “We need action in Congress and at the FCC.”

Do we need a broadband policy? Not really. We need competition, but we are not going to get that… will we!

Video competition “will result in an explosion of new services for consumers,” Tauke said. “But we need to change the policy on franchising.” Tauke said, “we need a fully functioning FCC,” adding that “it is hard to make bold policy when you have one vacancy and two lame ducks.” He called for the White House to be “active and attentive” on the matter.

(Given that Bells have been big supporters of Republicans, it knows that Congress and White House might be more receptive to its demands than those pesky locals.) (Some data about top contributors in the 2004 elections and top recipients!)

I think there is already an explosion of services. How about giving consumers 100 megabits per second and letting them figure out what they want to do with it. Downloadable video, not IPTV makes more and more sense over the new fiber networks Verizon is building. Why build the same-old television, when you can build a new TV. Not a passive TV, but something better. A sort of hosted TiVo where consumers go to the web and build their own TV channel which comes down the fiber. Thinking different is hard, but in the end that is what is going to make Bells broadband standout, not complaining from the roof tops.


Jesse Kopelman

Om, you better watch your back. If any Bellheads read what you wrote about downloadable video vs. IPTV they will have certainly put a hit on you. Inspect the cigars and scotch caps for suspicious puncture marks.

Om Malik

Akimbo is a good idea, except it wont really work in real life, what i am suggesting. keep the same viewing experience as a television, but turn it into a mega TV. charge a premium, (since they are redlining anyway) and get high end of the customers, who want to watch their own channel – which is sent to them like TV.


“Why build the same-old television, when you can build a new TV. Not a passive TV, but something better. A sort of hosted TiVo where consumers go to the web and build their own TV channel which comes down the fiber.”

You mean like that Akimbo thingamabob that Engadget reviewed last week? It would be awfully hard to watch the game on that thing…

In a sense, though, IPTV is already here. How would I be able to keep up with the new Doctor Who from North Carolina if I couldn’t download the video over the Internet?

Frank Muto

First off, nobody ever told the cry baby Bell’s to stop building out networks, shared or not, while they sat back fat and sassy watching the Cable-Co’s sting out cable.

Now we are to feel sorry for them because the want to bring out IPTV, ok, fine, – go ahead. But let’s not spend wasted time and money changing the rules to meet their purpose. Have we not seen enough of this?

Where were they (crybaby Bell’s) when ISP’s were building businesses and making the Internet as it is today? No where, they just sat by, once again.

But know that we, the ISP’s have shown them the millions of customers we have brought on net, they now take the gravy of Broadband and use regulatory capture and over used legal forbearances.

As for broadband policy vs broadband market, how about just enforcing the TA 96 Act for a change.

Earl Comstock, CEO of Comptel/ALTS had this to say in their recent report –

“For the past several years, the FCC has failed to adopt regulations that properly implement the network access provisions of the 1996 Act,” said Earl Comstock, CEO of CompTel/ALTS. “Congress created a regulatory framework so that businesses and consumers would have lower prices and more choices for broadband services. This report illustrates that the FCC has the authority to fix the problem of broadband penetration if it wants to. This report also demonstrates that U.S. regulators – in their zeal to appear “deregulatory” – have closed networks to competition and denied consumers the benefits of the 1996 Act. As a result, the U.S. continues to fall further behind the broadband penetration levels of countries that maintain consistently enforced regulatory regimes that guarantee network access at nondiscriminatory rates.”

Esme Vos

I think Verizon and SBC should be allowed to deliver whatever TV services they want via IP. Let’s have an open market on television services. There’s a mini TV war going on right now here in Europe. It’s the cable companies versus the telcos.

In the Netherlands, the incumbent operator, KPN, is advertising digital TV service for 7.95 EUR per month. In Belgium, the incumbent operator, Belgacom, won the rights to televise Belgian football (soccer for Americans); they paid 36 million EUR for a three-year exclusive contract. Versatel, a telco in the Netherlands, is trying to do a deal with Belgacom because Versatel has the rights to televise Dutch football (starting 2005). They will be offering triple-play services (TV, internet, voice) shortly – no price yet, but people are saying it will be for around 75 EUR per month.

All of these telcos-turned-TV stations are doing deals with 3G providers to show video on mobile phones. We’ll see where that goes.

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