20061221

Pandora's set top box

The F.C.C. ruled that municipalities had to take quick decisions (within 90 days) regarding video franchise agreements with telephone companies. Due to excessive delays, telcos often cannot compete with cablecos on their highly profitable turf (Comcast & Co charge an average $43 per month, 5% more than last year and double the rate of 10 years ago). And the battle reaches beyond services : rolling out a fiber optic network can be prevented on the ground that it can deliver television and video.
But Verizon & Co haven't won yet. Is the F.C.C. the relevant authority ? Is the American broadcasting ecosystem ready to open all gates at such a crossroads (convergence, DRM issues, free DIY n-to-n casting for everyone...) ?

We already know that USA doesn't mean United Spectrum of America, but things are not that easy in the fixed arena either, where Federal, State and local layers also pile up. We already know that US operators always finish last in the lobbying race : media / content groups are tough opponents and high tech players make sure the game remains open to all of their kind.
Ten to fifteen years ago, Europeans would dream of a US like market where local calls would be free and hundreds of TV channels available to almost everyone.
Nowadays, I guess many US players are envying their European counterparts. If they cannot even leverage on the scale of their own country / continent, they should be worrying about yet another set of competitors (Asia, Middle East, you name it).



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