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DOJ Investigation of Telecoms: Not Your Father’s Antitrust.

July 6, 2009 Antitrust , AT&T , Competition , FTC , Special Access

Although the Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) has not confirmed it, the Wall St. Journal reported that DOJ is internally considering whether or not companies "such as AT&T and Verizon" have abused their market power. Most traditional antitrust lawyers I've seen quoted don't think it likely the telcos have market power — especially given the hostility that courts have recently shown to antitrust. Indeed, in a world where even potential competition is supposed to be part of the market analysis, how can a modest 60% of the wireless market shared by the two companies, with no evidence of price fixing or coordinated behavior, support any sort of antitrust action?

Welcome to the more grown up and sophisticated view of market power in the more complex real world.

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The Conundrum of Internet Filtering

June 24, 2009 ACTA , AT&T , DPI

All this talk of Internet surveillance is enough to cause intense bafflement. For the last couple of days, stories about the revolution Iran indicated that the government is able to keep track of the Internet doings of protesters by means of deep-packet inspection (DPI), a technology developed in the West that, like most dual-use technologies, has a good side and a bad side.

The good side is that it can be used to manage networks and deal with computer viruses and other nasties. The bad side is that it can be used to track computer messages, target insurgents, invade privacy, violate Net Neutrality and, as AT&T wants to do, target the use of copyrighted material online and have users thrown off of the Internet. Using DPI as the mother of all Internet filters would seem to be a non-starter, and yet the industry keeps pushing it, perhaps thinking that the U.S.

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AT&T Blocks SlingPlayer over its 3G network, still permits its own video services

May 14, 2009 AT&T , Broadband , Innovation , Network Neutrality , Network Open Access

You may have read that this past week SlingMedia finally released its much anticipated SlingPlayer for the iPhone. It's an application that lets you remotely stream video and remotely control your home television, from your computer, mobile device, and now iPhone. However the app has been relegated to only working on the iPhone via WiFi, not the available 3G data network, at the request of AT&T. AT&T's justification for this is as follows:

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Obama or AT&T — The Choice for Commissioner-Designate Clyburn as the Whitacre Era Ends

April 30, 2009 AT&T , Broadband

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) may not have done his daughter, Mignon, any favors by getting her appointed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Mignon Clyburn has served on the South Carolina Public Service Commission since 1998. When confirmed, she would join Julius Genachowski, the Administration’s stalled nominee for chairman, and a Republican to be named later as the core of a future FCC.

Mignon Clyburn will come into office faced with a very delicate political balancing act, which she no doubt recognizes from growing up in a political family. Her father is the House Majority Whip, the third-ranking position in the leadership; he is the highest-ranking African American.

Over the past 10 years, as a member of the PSC, Clyburn has gone along with the normal pro-Bell tilt to the Commission.

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AT&T Quietly Updates its Wireless Plans (again)

April 29, 2009 AT&T , Data Caps , Internet Protocol , Network Neutrality , Spectrum Reform

Quietly, last night, AT&T revised its wireless plans. In the latest changes to the service terms, it looks like AT&T is trying to exempt its own video services but prohibiting services like the Slingbox.

Sound familiar?  I wrote it on April 3rd.  iPhone and PDA users literally felt their significant investment get less valuable.  They complained and AT&T removed the offending language by the next day, calling the language a mistake. 

Guess what?  It’s back!

Sometime in the past 24 hours, AT&T changed the TOS again:

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