[FoRK] Festivus: Airing of Grievances 2 --- OR --- Finally!

Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) fork at ianbell.com
Thu Dec 23 11:36:13 PST 2004

This is largely boosterism, not actual reporting.  The phone companies  
have been playing with TV Entertainment for more than a decade, and  
exactly the same story could have been written in 1996.  Bell Canada  
launched a shoddily-prepared Satellite TV service called "ExpressVu"  
years ago and it is really, truly horrible when compared to Digital  

The BellCos are guilty of much puffery around TV Entertainment but now  
that their Residential Voice cash cow is substantially threatened by  
VoIP (esp. from the Cable Guys and wireless competitors) they're  
lashing out with much greater abandon.  They're touting price as a  
lever to drive consumer pressure on the CableCos in an effort to reduce  
margins in that industry substantially to slow its progress.

The ILECs that _have_ already done trials with TV over technologies  
like DSL have in particular learned two things that wouldn't be  
reported in an article such as this:

	1)	Customers don't like getting a $200/mo. bill from anyone, even if it
		is a company providing them with "converged services".
	2)	The technology doesn't work, constrained mostly by the laws of

Meanwhile I am declaring 2005 the year of the PVR.  It will cause a  
fundamental shift in how people consume TV Entertainment.  Feature  
material such as breaking news and sports will continue to thrive (and  
grow in importance) whereas it will be increasingly difficult for  
programming execs to build blockbuster evenings such as NBC Thursday  
Nights as a tool to promote journeyman programming.  As people consume  
a shrinking diversity of programming, look for more shows-as-spinoffs  
leveraging brand names to carry the audience.  It'll be more difficult  
to promote new television, and I suspect that the specialty cable  
channels, which have benefitted from the "nothing on" syndrome, will  
lose ground as people no longer channel surf when desperate for  

ADSL was supposed to be a stopgap technology to bridge between simple  
wire pairs and fiber to the home.  Now it's become their solitary core  
residential broadband strategy, and will be a serious albatross for  
decades to come.  The investment required to get fiber into the home?   
Whoa.  Doubly difficult as their margins continue to decline.

IMHO, if there's any whisper of an opportunity for the Bells it's in  
this convergence of some flavor of increased broadband performance in  
their core residential data networks and a fundamental shift in viewing  
habits.  Why pull down 203 channels if I'm only watching one?  Apart  
from news and sports, why even pull down the programming in realtime?

If the Bells have a broad TV Entertainment offering by 2010 I will be  
surprised.  In the long haul there's money to be made shorting them  
(once they spinoff wireless) and anybody that focuses on them as a  
customer (read:  Nortel).  And if you think their service and support  
will be any better than the Cable Guy's you've never stood in one of  
their call centers (which, even with their triumphant  
customer-offending glory, no longer exist... outsourced to India).

In the meantime it's necessary for the ILECs to attempt to FUD the  
cable guys and slow their encroachment on telephony.


On 21-Dec-04, at 10:48 PM, Jeff Bone wrote:

> Not sure what to think of this.  On the one hand --- convergence is  
> always good. (?)  OTOH --- FUCKING PHONE COMPANIES!!!
> Aaaargh!  What's a future-conscious consumer activist to do???
> --
> http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=528&e=4&u=/ap/ 
> 20041221/ap_on_hi_te/ye_telecom
> Telephone Business Gears Up to Deliver TV

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