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Unbundling’s downside: the air travel analogy

So here’s an analogy you don’t hear every day: airline fees and multichannel video. But there may be a disturbing symmetry brewing, thinks the New York Times writer Neil Irwin. He points to the airline industry’s embrace of bric-a-brac fees for piecemeal services like beverages, meals and baggage handling, and says pay TV could be headed to a similar place if providers unbundle catch-all video packages.

Turntables rejoice: Renewed mojo for vinyl records

That turntable collecting dust in your basement may be due for a second life. In a rare example of an analog resurgence, sales of vinyl records are rising so fast that manufacturers can't keep up with the demand. The 7 million flat, round, black, glistening LPs purchased through early December, 2014 represent a 50 percent rise from a year earlier, as indie rock fans in particular embrace the needle. But the resurgence, alas, may be limited. "The  record-making business is stirring to life—but it’s still on its last legs," writes the Wall Street Journal's Neil Shah. 

The care and vining of television in the new era

While the traditional television crowd wasn't looking, an entirely new content explosion was rising up on YouTube. Here, New Yorker contributor Tad Friend pens a gotta-read piece here about Big Media's attempt to catch up with and/or co-opt the new original online video movement -- and why the next big thing in TV might last only six seconds. One irresistable line: "The digital realm is no country for old men; younger, fleeter forms and stars are emerging faster and faster, and you almost can’t trust anyone over thirteen to understand them."

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Tuesday, February, 17 2015

Redefining broadband…and why it matters

By: Stewart Schley Tuesday, February, 17 2015

Most investors still seem to believe the market-reshaping Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger will happen. But as this New York Times analysis points out, the betting line is shifting, with some saying the odds of completion are now slightly lower.


Beyond the normal regulatory scrutiny a $45 billion transaction merits, the deal is complicated by shifts in the broader regulatory approach toward Internet delivery at large in the U.S.


So far, most of the focus has fallen on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s embrace of the so-called Title II provisions of the Communications Act as a legally defensible foundation for network neutrality regulation. But another move by the FCC could also have an impact. It’s the reclassification of “broadband” as an Internet delivery network capable of hurtling IP packets down the pipe at an impressive rate of 25 megabits per second (and back upstream at 4 Mbps).


The relative quiet surrounding this reclassification is surprising, given the stakes here. In a single bureaucratic stroke in late January, the FCC changed the dimensions for the U.S. broadband marketplace. The old definition used a downstream data rate of a now-quaint 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream, meaning any last-mile provider with a middling Internet service was deemed to be playing in the broadband sandbox. And of course, almost everybody was.


With the sudden elevation to 25 Mbps, though, the game changes. 


So will the concentration-of-share metrics. In particular, the cable industry’s share of the redefined U.S. “broadband” market will rise markedly as a function of the industry’s own network investments and competitive differentiation achievements. Although…

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