Category Archives: Telecom

Verizon Wireless Customer Service’s Twitter Save

For a few minutes, there was a post here on the blog complaining about Verizon Wireless customer service difficulties. Then my Tweet was responded to by Verizon customer service, so I took the post down – I reclassified the post from “posted” to “pending” – while I exchanged private messages on Twitter with Verizon’s customer service account. Very quickly and courteously, my problem was completely and satisfactorily resolved.

So the initial post detailing Verizon Wireless’ failings has been replaced with this post. When in-person customer service makes a mistake and over-the-phone customer services claims an inability to fix it, indeed, monitoring social media and responding quickly is a brand’s last line of defense. Tonight, Verizon Wireless’ last line of defense was up to the task.

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Telecom Tower Terminology: Guyed Tower, Guy Wire

I recall the first time I encountered tower terminology when pricing out attachment rates.  At first, I thought I must have misheard the term “guy wire.” Of course, I already thought I was dealing with a “guide tower,” so what did I know?

Well, this blog post on the Launch 3 Telecom site entitled “What is a Guyed Tower?” tells you a little bit about guyed towers and guy wires (before it morphs into a Launch 3 Telecom advertisement).

Anyway, now you’ll now what guyed towers and guy wires are (and how to spell them), you’ll have to find other terminology to trip you up.

A Look Back at Aereo’s Interesting Final Year

The Source of My Policy Geekdom…

I wrote a couple times this past year about Aereo. This is mostly because I’m a bit of a telecom policy geek. My telecom policy geekdom all started decades ago, thanks to a class I took while studying for my B.A. in Telecommunications.  Telecommunications Law, I think it was called. The key thing I took away from that class, taught by the exceptional Professor Thomas Muth, was that it was often possible to credibly, honestly argue either side of a policy debate simply by interpreting the Communications Act of 1934 differently. I was working for telcos when that was replaced by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. What makes telecom law so interesting is that it is often up to interpretation, with case history sometimes providing a window into expected FCC and court decisions, but the Telecom Act often allows for changes in policy direction, if desired. And in the case of Aereo, there was even case history supporting opposing potential decisions.

…and How It Led to My Aereo Posts

So that’s what made Aereo so interesting to me; that’s what prompted two posts, first on April 8th and again on April 20th.  This was a situation in which both sides could find support in telecom laws and case histories; the main question was how those laws would be interpreted in this particular case.

The Unraveling of Aereo Since June, and the Beginning of Its Final Dismantling

I wasn’t blogging much, and therefore failed to publish any posts about Aereo, during the time period that Aereo was “deemed illegal” by the Supreme Court in June (as noted in this TechCrunch article) or when it lost its appeal to be consider a cable company in August (see this c|net article). Nor did I post in November when Aereo’s Chet Kanojia penned a final farewell to the company’s customers (which, at least for now, can still be seen on Aereo’s website).

Most recently, the company was in the news a couple weeks ago for a court decision allowing it to auction off its equipment (as detailed in this telecompaper article).

This seems to be the end for Aereo, but for the telecom policy geek in me, at least, it was interesting following the ups and downs of this potentially disruptive telecom business.

Which Telecom Providers Could Spin Off Assets as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)?

Though I don’t have a lot to say about this article about telecom service providers spinning off REITs, by Reinhardt Krause of Investor’s Business Daily, a couple of things struck me about it.  It may be of more interest to me than to many of you, but it’s my blog, so I’m going to write about it.  It’s a topic I may return to as I run across articles with additional thoughts on the financial structuring of assets in the telecom industry or chat with industry contacts about their thoughts.

First, at the end of the article, I learned that the big tower operators American Tower and Crown Castle were structured as REITs (real estate investment trusts).  I didn’t know that before, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had thought about it; it makes perfect sense.

Of course, the key point of the article is the prediction that Frontier may follow Windstream down the path of telcos restructuring their network assets as REITs.  And the article points out that, even if an REIT trend ensues, large carriers like Verizon and AT&T are unlikely to restructure using REITs, if only due to the regulatory difficulties they would encounter trying to get approval.  The article lists CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, and TDS as other carriers who might follow Windstream into the REIT pool

In any case, it’s a concept worth keeping an eye on, particularly to those of us with interest in telcos, real estate financial structures, and the combination of the two.

And for those who’d like to read about the Windstream REIT spinoff that started all of this, I dug up this July 29 Windstream press release on Telecom Ramblings about it.

Recent News Items: Internet Speeds, Network Expansion, FTTP in Cincinnati

Just noticed a few items this past week that caught my eye.  The download speeds piece is probably of rather broad interest.  The others are articles about fiber network plans; clearly, after so many years of following those things during my career, those are items that catch my attention.  Anyway, here they are, just in case you missed them in other news sources:

Internet Speeds

The news that U.S. Internet download speeds are 25th in the world sparked an examination of the U.S. broadband market in this InfoWorld article by Caroline Craig. The article included a link to Ookla’s Net Index, which ranks the download speeds by country.  And yes, I can confirm that I get faster download speeds (and much faster upload speeds) in Eastern Europe than I do here at home in the United States.

Fiber Network Expansion and Pending Carrier Acquisition

Rob Powell’s Telecom Ramblings article discussed tw telecom’s East Coast network expansion using Zayo dark fiber. It also points out that this may be just about the end of this sort of announcements from tw telecom in advance of the closing of the Level 3 deal.  (As Channel Partners notes here, in early September, the DoJ cleared Level 3’s acquisition of tw telecom.)

Fiber-to-the-Prem in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Bell hopes to entrench itself in Cincinnati by reaching 70-80% of all homes via fiber-to-the-premises, as CEO Ted Torbeck noted in a recent presentation, per this FierceTelecom article by Sean Buckley.

Fiber deployments: June and July 2014

While analyzing the fiberoptics industry with KMI more than a decade ago, I became accustomed to following announcements of fiber network expansions.  I can’t seem to break that habit.  Here’s a small sampling of announcements from around the world over the last couple of months:

In Paraguay, TeleGeography reports about wireless carrier Tigo’s planned US$120 million expansion of its fiberoptic backhaul network.  The article notes that Tigo’s network currently spans 5,693 km.

TeleGeography also reports about Algerie Telecom’s plans to add an additional 20,000 km to its existing 57,000 km fiber network by the end of 2015.

Lightwave reports that Allied Fiber has opened up the first segment of the southeast portion of its planned national dark fiber network; the newly available segment is a 360 mile span from Miami to Jacksonville.  I’ll let you read Lightwave’s article for more info, including the fiber count and type of fiber installed.

In undersea cable news, I spotted a couple of recent announcements, as well.

As noted in this Light Reading article, Hibernia has recently begun construction on a 4,600 km Hibernia Express undersea cable connecting North America with the UK.

Meanwhile, per this InterAksyon.com report, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company is the lead investor in the 20,000 km Asia-America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable, connecting Southeast Asia and the Philippines with Hawaii and the U.S. west coast.

FTTH around the world: Some June and Early July Updates

Of course, FTTH news always catches my attention.

Total Telecom quotes FTTH Council Asia Pacific president Bernard Lee’s statement that the FTTH subscriber count in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach 100 million in late 2014.

In South Africa, TeleGeography reports that MTN SA has connected it first FTTH subscribers in Monaghan Farm, 30 km north of Johannesburg.  Telkom SA also announced its FTTH plans in suburbs of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.  And Vumatel, in addition to its potential 2,100-home deployment in the Parkhurst suburb of Johannesburg, has announced plans to roll FTTH out to 200,000 homes across 100 locations in South Africa.

In the U.S., Lightwave reported about the progress of the municipal FTTH network in Loma Linda, California (all businesses and 1,600 houses are on-net, with 800 more home connections expected in the next 3 years) and the upgrade of Blue Valley Tele-Communications’ FTTH network serving 7,500 customers across 17 communities in Kansas.

Elsehwere in the U.S., Ethernut reports that a third neighborhood in Ridgeland, MS has passed C Spire’s 45% preregistration threshold required to qualify for deployment of 1 Gbps FTTH.

Richard Jones’ The Business of NGA/FTTX linked to a great telecompaper article noting that Telefonica’s 100,000 new Movistar customers in April and May bumped its total number of customers in Spain past the 800,000 mark.

And in Réunion, TeleGeography reports that Zeop has lit its FTTH network in Beausejour. Because how often do I get to mention Réunion Island?!

That’s just a sampling of recent FTTH announcements. So much going on in so many places! And yet, since I covered the industry in its early stages, I’m always drawn to industry updates.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the recent news excerpts assembled above.

And just for kicks, I’ll close this post with a “Throwback Thursday” link to a February 2002 CED article called “FTTx: An Unreal Reality Takes Shape,” which cited numbers from my 2001 KMI report on the FTTH industry (and in which I’m quoted).

Potential for Telecom Provider Consolidation in Europe & Beyond

I don’t really have much to add to Tim Poulus’ Communications Breakdown blog post I’m about to cite.  Thanks to Rob Powell’s tweet this morning, I stumbled across this great Communications Breakdown blog post summarizing the potential for consolidation in the telecom industry (with most of his examples in Europe, it appears), featuring carriers as “hunters,” “the hunted,” and “undecided.”

Indeed, it’s such a good post, I won’t add anything, but on the heels of my mostly U.S.-focused (well, at least half U.S.-focused) post from a couple weeks ago, I thought this might be an interesting international follow-up.

Oh, and the Communications Breakdown post contains this interesting graphic from a biology text, too.  (Bonus points for being clever.)

Comparison of Prey and Predators’ Populations

 

Carrier Consolidation Update: June 2014

I haven’t had time to formulate thoughtful analyses of any news items recently, but I have been noticing a lot of news about telecom carrier mergers lately, so I thought I’d summarize some of what I’ve seen… with links, of course, if you want to delve further into any of them.

TeleGeography reports that it sees cellular consolidation on the horizon in India, as the country’s top three cellular carriers dominate the market.  If that happens, India’s wireless industry would simply be joining the ongoing consolidation trend in telecom.

Here in the U.S., we’re following the merger chatter surrounding T-Mobile and Sprint.  BGR’s Zach Epstein provides the details in his overview, referencing CNBC’s video discussing the $2 billion break-up fee and the plans to go with the T-Mobile name and management team post-merger.  Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has been widely quoted as noting that a Sprint-T-Mobile merger would reduce the “big four” to a “big three,” the same reasoning cited for disallowing an AT&T-T-Mobile merger three years ago.  Obviously, T-Mobile and Sprint are hoping a merger of the 3rd and 4th largest carriers is more palatable to the FCC and DoJ.

In Europe, the talk is about Telefonica’s proposed acquisition of German wireless carrier E-Plus from KPN.

In the Italian wireless space, Reuters has reported a restart of negotiations between Hutchison Whampoa and Vimpelcom to merge their Italian wireless subsidiaries.  This report came just a week after Hutchison gained final EU approval of its Irish subsidiary’s acquisition of Telefonica’s wireless business in Ireland.

Back in the U.S., on the video side, AT&T continues to push ahead with its proposed acquisition of DirecTV, while Comcast and Time Warner Cable pursue a mega-merger.  In fact, this article suggests the AT&T-DirecTV deal may help boost the likelihood of regulatory approval for Comcast-Time Warner.

One of the interesting aspects of the AT&T-DirecTV acquisition is the role NFL Sunday Ticket plays in the deal.  As this Digital Trends article points out, there is reportedly an opt-out clause for AT&T if DirecTV fails to renew its deal with the NFL.

Meanwhile, Fierce Telecom’s Sean Buckley notes that Level 3 is looking to vastly expand its access on on-net buildings with its proposed acquisition of tw telecom.

I’m sure I may have missed a few, but those are the deals I’ve noticed in the news lately.

Carrier Ethernet Quick Hits: Price Declines Accelerate; Allstream Gets Certified, So Does Cox

Carrier Ethernet has been in the news a bit lately.  Here are a few quick hits:

1) In its CommsUpdate, TeleGeography noted that Ethernet pricing isn’t just declining; rather, it’s decline has accelerated in the past year:

New data from TeleGeography’sEthernet Pricing Service reveal that as Ethernet service availability has grown around the world, price declines have accelerated. Between H1 2013 and H1 2014, median monthly lease prices for 100Mbps point-to-point Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS) pseudowires declined an average of 44%, compared to 26% annually since H1 2011.

You can see the acceleration very clearly in TeleGeography’s graphic:

2) Canadian competitive carrier Allstream is trying to differentiate itself via MEF CE 2.0 certification:

“I am proud that Allstream is the first among Canada’s major national carriers to achieve this significant milestone,” said Allstream President Michael Strople. “The MEF CE 2.0 certification reinforces Allstream’s reputation for innovation and provides assurance to our customers that the products and services they are buying are the best in Canada and the world.”

3) CED reported that, in the U.S., Cox Business became the fourth cableco to earn MEF CE 2.0 certification, joining Time Warner Cable Business Class, RCN Business, and Comcast.

4) So, how many MEF CE 2.0 carriers are there?  Yes, I was wondering, too, so I went to the Metro Ethernet Forum website, where I found this Services Certification Registry.  As of this writing, 74 services, offered by 26 companies in 12 countries, are MEF CE 2.0 certified.  (A lot more companies — 72 in 27 countries– are MEF CE 1.0 certified.)

So that’s today’s tour around the Carrier Ethernet space.  I had noticed a flurry of mentions in the last couple of weeks and was curious what was going on in the space.  Perhaps this summary has satisfied your curiosity, as well.  If I missed any other interesting recent Metro Ethernet news, please do share links in the comment section (or you can send it to me and I’ll share it, if you’re one of my industry friends and contacts who doesn’t want to comment yourself).

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