#TBT: Appealing net neutrality; AT&T moves into SDN; Verizon buys AOL … this week in 2015

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Industry appeals FCC’s net neutrality rules

WASHINGTON – The joint petitioners seeking a stay on the implementation of net neutrality rules, which go into effect next month, have appealed the FCC’s denial with a higher court. The case has been brought before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, based in Washington, D.C., with the plaintiffs listed as the United States Telecom Association, Cellular Telephone Industries Association, AT&T, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and CenturyLink, as well as the American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. These are the same organizations that filed the joint petition with the Federal Communications Commission to stay its open Internet order in the first place. Upon filing the appeal, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said, “CTIA is seeking a stay to preserve the light-touch regulatory regime that, until now, has been a bipartisan success story.” She continued: “The FCC’s decision to impose monopoly-era rules on mobile broadband, which is a highly competitive, innovative and evolving market, is an overreach and unnecessary. Our request for stay is to limit the impact that the FCC’s ill-conceived decision would have on America’s global leading wireless industry so that the ecosystem can continue to work for Americans and our nation’s economy.” … Read more

AT&T’s SDN adoption gains steam

AT&T’s software-defined networking plans continue to gain momentum, with company CEO Randall Stephenson recently reiterating that SDN is operating in 100 markets and affirming a recent call for further collaboration. Speaking at an investor conference this week, Stephenson said that in addition to the company having SDN technology running in triple-figure markets, the telecom giant said SDN would allow AT&T to increase network utilization rates from 40% to 90%. The carrier recently noted it plans to have 5% of a targeted 150-network enterprise-focused functions virtualized and controlled with “our target architecture” by the end of this year, on its way to hitting its previous forecast of 75% control by 2020. Looking to meet that goal, AT&T also recently announced its first SDN Network Design Challenge, asking “academia and research institutions” to join the carrier in tapping SDN and NFV to design better networks. “The AT&T SDN Network Design Challenge will provide an opportunity to innovate at scale,” AT&T noted. “Participants will get to work with a realistic, carrier-grade network – something the academic community has asked us for.” AT&T explained that “flow-based” routing methods recently have proven successful in data centers, which has peaked interest from telecom operators. The company said it is looking to use the challenge to “better understand how this method – or others – could help to improve routing and network utilization.” … Read more

Wi-Fi, wireless and Comcast

Comcast could be the next cable operator to experiment with a new wireless service. Cablevision has pioneered the concept on the East Coast with its Freewheel service, offering unlimited voice, data and texting for $30 per month. The service is based on Wi-Fi hot spots, something Comcast has a lot more of than Cablevision. Comcast has more than 8 million Wi-Fi hot spots, or seven times as many as Cablevision. The company uses some home Wi-Fi routers as public hot spots, and has faced legal action from disgruntled customers. But millions of Comcast hot spots are in public areas, and many are outdoors. The Comcast hot spots are concentrated on the East and West Coasts, and the company’s Xfinity Internet customers can connect to them for free. In a number of areas the density is sufficient for mobile service on devices that support voice-over-Wi-Fi. “If they were to offer a Wi-Fi calling sort of service it could be priced at $5/month and compete with Verizon,” said analyst Joe Madden of Mobile Experts. Right now Comcast is partnered with Verizon Wireless, selling the carrier’s wireless service to its Xfinity Internet and cable customers. Comcast sold its wireless spectrum to Verizon three years ago. After apparently turning its back on wireless, Comcast tried to grow its core cable business through a merger with rival Time Warner, but last month the Federal Communications Commission decided not to approve the deal. … Read more

Connected umbrellas and a universal device

Could a nationwide stock of connected umbrellas (see here for a $43 prototype) replace the National Weather Service? Is a weather forecast by crowdsourcing more accurate than a room of high-performance computers? These were some of the questions posed at a recent London event by my co-presenter Teresa Cottam. Her point was about business-model disruption in the emerging “Internet of Things” and wearables market. This year’s Mobile World Congress brought further examples, neatly summarized by my colleague Jeff Barak’s in-situ blog post. A couple of weeks later, the 50th IDC Directions event in Boston offered further food for thought. In typical IDC style, a forecast (actually four) was presented. From $3.5 billion in revenue last year, the global wearables market is expected to rise to $37 billion by 2019. In unit terms, the growth estimated by IDC is remarkable, too – from 21 million devices in 2014 to 125 million in 2019. Quick reality check: This is small fries compared to the number of phones on the planet – getting to about 7 billion – and the famed prediction of 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Two questions follow. Is the wearable forecast underestimated? And should service providers worry about the ever-increasing number of connected devices? Can take-up possibly accelerate? IDC payment expert James Wester provided an insight that will resonate with many. “When we leave home in the morning,” he said in Boston, “we take three things with us: our keys, our wallet and our phone.” I checked with my teenage daughters this morning – that’s what they do! “There is no reason for this,” James continued. “One device should be enough.” … Read more

Verizon buys AOL, “a growth platform”

Verizon Communications is diving deeper into digital content with an agreement to buy AOL for $50/share, or approximately $4.4 billion. The nation’s leading wireless carrier said that AOL will boost its LTE wireless video business, its “over-the-top” video offerings and will create “a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses.” While AOL is not well-known for wireless video, it has invested in a digital advertising platform. The company also owns valuable content brands, including Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch and Makers. For Verizon, this is the latest in a string of acquisitions aimed at beefing up its digital media business. Last year the carrier bought Intel Media for Internet video technology, content delivery network EdgeCast Networks, and live video encoder UpLynk. Wireless carriers know they need to control content and monetization platforms in order to realize the full value of their investments in fiber and LTE networks. Half of the video viewing in the U.S. now takes place on personal computers, according to McKinsey, with 14% on mobile devices and 36% on traditional television sets. Growth in television viewership has been anemic, while mobile video viewing grew 175% in 2013 and 50% in 2014, according to the McKinsey analysts. “Verizon’s purchase of AOL is the first step of many to fulfill their ambitious strategy to be the next generation broadcaster,” said consultant Jim Patterson of Patterson Advisory Group. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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