Media and Telecom: Blurred Lines and an Even Blurrier Future
RingPlus News Service Los Angeles, April 20th, 2017 - AT&T is the latest telecom giant to introduce a free
streaming product exclusive for current customers. Like many other telecoms,
AT&T is buying up bandwidth through mergers and acquisitions and striking
alliances with media companies to bring creative new offerings to consumers to
gain more subscribers than their competitors. Media companies are also
following the trend of buying up smaller telecoms. Media and telecom networks
are converging, consumers are demanding more data and content, and the
political climate is shifting. What could this mean for the future of the
Time Warner is in talks to become part of AT&T. AT&T snapped up Straight Path Communications, a telecom with licenses to 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum. Charter, the second largest cable company in the US, previously purchased Time Warner Cable, and now Verizon is eyeing new cable giant Charter. Verizon is eyeing Disney, Comcast or CBS for its next merger. The results could be exciting new products delivered more efficiently than ever before, or the results could mean higher prices for end users.
Cable companies are wise to cozy up to major telecoms and vice versa. Standard TV is on the way out and mobile streaming is the new boss. The proliferation of smartphones and people being either very reliant or outright addicted to their phones is a major driver for cell service providers to grow their networks, both in infrastructure and attractive offers. With deals from AT&T with HBO and Verizon’s soon-to-be-launched streaming TV service, cable companies are relics in an ever-shrinking market. Telecoms are buying up bandwidth at rapid rates to push for the next best mobile streaming experience on the emerging 5G network.
All these developments will certainly yield very innovative products, but the unbridled merging of major corporations could hurt consumers in the long run. One of the FCC’s main goals is to foster competition that keeps prices low, a benefit to end consumers. However, the current political climate is leaning heavily toward deregulation with the Trump administration’s pick as chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai. One of Pai’s goals is to peel back Obama-era net neutrality rules that “ensure that (the Internet) could not be divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for web and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else,” according to New York Times writer Steve Lohr. With limited competition and little to no regulation to stop this divvying up of the Internet, service providers could change the Internet – and everything we love about it – drastically and permanently.