Video traffic is expected to increase by 720% and cloud/data center traffic is expected to increase by 440% by 2017, according to a Bell Labs study that was released last week. The study provides a number of other broadband traffic projections as well. This kind of data is helpful, although the message it conveys is nothing new. Broadband usage demands are rising rapidly and projections can help service providers to anticipate how much more capacity networks will be required to handle in just a few short years.
However, last week also saw the expansion of usage-based broadband pricing as Comcast extended its 300 gigabyte (GB) per month cap to its XFINITY customers in Maine. Customers can purchase additional blocks of 50 GB for $10 a month. This is the same pricing structure that Comcast uses in Huntsville and Mobile, Ala.; Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Central Kentucky; Jackson, Miss; Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C. Read more
You don’t need to be a voracious reader to know that brick-and-mortar bookstores have what one could charitably call a “questionable future.” This bums me out, as a guy who likes to unplug and occasionally undertake pursuits that do not involve electronic devices. I like to hang out at bookstores, drink coffee, walk the aisles and flip though actual paper books and magazines that do not need electricity, battery power or software updates. At least two bookstores that I used to walk by on my way to work have been replaced with trendy clothing stores. Since I have what one could charitably call “an awful fashion sense”, I did not view these developments as at all positive, and I have never been in these clothing stores to update my wardrobe.
Barnes & Noble has had a tough few years. It got worse when the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced an investigation into the company’s accounting practices. It is just an allegation, of course, but as this writer states, the SEC believes that “some [of Barnes and Noble’s] Information Technology expenses had been ‘improperly allocated’ between the Nook and Retail segments.” Again, it’s just an allegation, but the only time a corporate executive wants to see the letters “SEC” is if he is a college football fan. Read more
The average American consumed 14 hours per week of radio in 2012, placing it second behind only traditional television (35 hours per week) in all media consumed, Nielsen reported in a report released last week.
“The average American consumed almost 60 hours of content each week across TV, radio, online and mobile in 2012,” Nielsen wrote in the report, “A Look Across Media: The Cross-Platform Report Q3 2013.” “Of the many mediums, radio remains a constant in our daily lives. The average American radio listener tunes in to radio over two hours per day (or 14 hours per week), making it the second-most consumed form of media after TV.”
Using the Internet on a computer was the third most consumed media, averaging 5.1 hours per week. Video on the Internet and game consoles were tied for fourth at 1.5 hours weekly, followed by video on mobile and DVD/Blu-Ray (1.3 hours per week each.)
The Nielsen report went on to stress the potential benefits radio has to offer marketers. “[T]he hyper local nature of audio offers advertisers community-level engagement between content and in-store activity. Often timely, radio spots can catch listeners right before they make their purchase decisions, and an impactful radio spot can inform and influence these decisions.”
I spent most of seventh and eighth grade with an encyclopedia tucked beneath my desk. For some reason, I found reading about obscure things like fissionable yellowcake uranium and biographies of random personalities (though always in alphabetical order) to be more interesting than the history or social studies lesson of the day. I did well enough on the tests that my teachers did not bother me about the extracurricular reading, but it seems I missed some of the finer points during civics class. For example, it was not until I began to study the Telecom Act (well after I finished law school) that I began to appreciate the distinctions between Federal and state law and their respective jurisdictions.
This week, I learned another lesson, slightly related to civics but apparently (if not unfortunately) one that arises in government administration. Specifically: if you diffuse responsibility and authority broadly enough across multiple agencies, no single entity can be held accountable to achieve desired outcomes. A related lesson: the articulation of goals must include a determination, at the outset, of standards by which success will be measured. And, finally: the allocation of responsibility among different entities for a single project can result in one agency disclaiming liability because “We were ready, but the tasks assigned to the other agency were not completed.” Read more
Data released last month by The Diffusion Group (TDG), an online consumer research firm, shows that more than half of consumers able to view online content on their television have increased their use of over-the-top programming sources over the last year. The increase in OTT viewing was reported to be significant by 24% of OTT consumers, while 28.5% said the increase was slight. The consumption of OTT content remained about the same for 33.7% of consumers, according to TDG.
Meanwhile, separate figures from the Leichtman Research Group (LRG) show that large video providers (including cable, satellite and telcos) lost a combined total of more than 26,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2013 alone. While not as heavy a loss as the 50,000 subscribers lost in the same quarter of 2012, it has been a rough year for large cable companies. LRG states that these providers have lost more than 600,000 subscribers in the third quarter of this year alone. In contrast, satellite and large telco providers gained subscribers. Still, the overall figures show a decline of 80,000 subscribers for the sector this year, compared to a gain of 310,000 subscribers over the prior year, according to LRG.
“That consumers are watching more over-the-top video is not itself surprising,” TDG co-founder Michael Greeson said in a statement. “But to see such a widespread increase in OTT TV viewing is dramatic, especially as pay-TV subscriptions in the U.S. are experiencing their greatest 12-month losses to date.” The move away from traditional cable is still helping satellite and telco providers for the moment, but the trend towards OTT viewing is not showing signs of slowing anytime soon.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, my aunt delivered a stack of family paperwork that included correspondence concerning my grandfather’s application to serve as a chaplain in a New York State hospital in the 1950s. Over a course of weeks and months, as revealed by the letters’ dates, my grandfather was informed of the position, submitted an application and navigated the routes of obtaining recommendations and references. As I flipped through the letters, many on onion-skin paper, I could not help but think about how much of this correspondence would now be administered via email, voice-mail, and texts. Perhaps the most anachronistic element was a letter my grandfather sent to hospital while his application was pending, informing the administrator that correspondence over the next several weeks should be sent to his daughter’s house, where he would be vacationing for the summer. More than a half-century later, we carry our (electronic) mailboxes with us on our waists.
Quite often, we talk about how full participation in the current job market demands connectivity – online job searches, online job applications and the ability to connect to potential employers and others who may be able to cultivate those connections. And, even if one would argue that an inability to connect does not actually preclude someone from being a competitive job seeker, one would be hard pressed to maintain that such inability does not effectively preclude meaningful participation. At the very least, one person’s application and references will arrive nearly instantly by a series of pings while the other’s will first be deposited, then collected, then sorted, then bundled, then placed on a funny-looking truck with right-hand drive, then sent out for delivery… Read more
In 2010, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. (AEC), an electric utility providing service to a rural area in Minnesota, was awarded $16 million in stimulus funds to build a Fiber-to-the-Home broadband network to underserved citizens throughout Cook County.
Realizing that the company lacked critical knowledge and experience in deploying a broadband network, AEC contacted Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC), a small telco about four hours away, and negotiated a partnership whereby CTC would assist AEC with the project, including providing input and expertise with engineering, installation, sales and marketing. CTC has more than 60 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and deployed its own fiber network in 2006.
The joint project will eventually bring fiber broadband service to more than 4,000 homes and businesses in AEC’s service area. In October, AEC established the first 100 Mbps connection to its home office in Lutsen, Minn. (population 190).
Once the fiber has been deployed, AEC will handle billing operations and CTC will handle back-end support. Despite the distance between the two, AEC’s voice and Internet services will be provided with assistance from CTC. AEC also has the option to leverage CTC’s expertise for future projects should it so desire.
AEC held a Broadband Launch Open House in October, where it invited customers to bring their own wireless devices to test the speed of the new service, planned to be widely available beginning in early 2014.