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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wireless and 'managed services' - what will FCC do?

The FCC has issued a call for yet more evidence on 'specialized' services and wireless as part of the ongoing NPRM process, though with Google conceding the latter this may just be for form's sake. AT&T has made some pretty aggressive rebuttals on DiffServ, and my view remains that managed services need definition but obviously should be permitted so long as they do not degrade the basic unfiltered Internet pipe.
But lets not fool ourselves, investing in specialized (as opposed to managed) services diverts capital from the basic pipe and vice versa, unless you're the genius who knows exactly how to use managed as well as specialized services to continue offering an exact 'Goldilocks' service to regular Internet users - not too hot, not too cold. In this version of the fairytale, too hot is too expensive to deploy efficiently or non-profitable, and too cold is too throttled. Just right would offer the full suite of managed, specialized and plain vanilla services, ensuring maximum consumer transparency and choice, with surplus profits reinvested in maximising the cheapest and best alternative for the majority of traffic, the Internet pipe. That's obviously easier where your main or sole business is as an ISP and your main accounting is wholesale and transparent. Its hardest if you're a cable provider or even more massive communications conglomerate with horizontal-vertical linkages into content and customer services that makes the pipe and ISP consumers the least of your worries.
As with all out-of-copyright fairytales, it comes from Europe and suffers greatly in translation to American corporate capitalism. It may even come true, but probably not in Kansas.

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