Saturday, May 17, 2014

Boneheaded media coverage and analysis of AT&T purchase of DirecTV

AT&T close to announcing DirecTV acquisition: sources - Yahoo Finance: The deal would combine the largest U.S. satellite provider and the country's No. 2 wireless carrier, expanding AT&T's customer base by 20 million for its U-verse fiber product, which provides television and Internet service.

The transaction may also allow current DirecTV customers to get Internet service where AT&T u-Verse is available. DirecTV's growth has been hurt because unlike cable companies, it is unable to offer broadband alongside its TV subscriber services. AT&T has about 10.4 million u-Verse Internet customers in states such as California and Texas.

"AT&T just upped the ante," said Roger Entner, lead analyst at Recon Analytics, referring to the BuzzFeed report. "They have become an even more integrated telecom provider and are no longer tied to their U-Verse footprint."

I continue to be vexed by boneheaded media coverage and analysis of this deal. First of all, AT&T does not have a "U-verse fiber product." For the vast majority of U-Verse residential customers, it's based on twisted copper pair using VDSL IPTV transmission technology, with fiber backhauling the field equipment. Second, DirecTV is a satellite TV service that is separate and distinct from integrated telecommunications services delivered over landline connections via Internet protocol. Third, there's nothing about this deal if it consummates that "may allow current DirecTV customers to get Internet service where AT&T u-Verse is available." U-Verse is offered in only a selected portion of AT&T's service territory whereas DirectTV is offered most anywhere. The two have nothing to do with one another.

Finally, analyst Roger Entner's comment that the DirecTV acquisition would make AT&T "an even more integrated telecom provider ... no longer tied to their U-Verse footprint" makes no sense whatsoever. Offering satellite TV does not make AT&T or any other telco "a more integrated telecom provider."  Direct broadcast satellite TV has been around as a stand alone service for many years before AT&T or other telcos began offering DSL-based premises Internet service in the late 1990s. However, Entner's reference to AT&T uncoupling from its U-Verse footprint does make sense if viewed in the context of AT&T turning to DBS as part of a strategic withdrawal from U-Verse due to technological obsolescence of IPTV over copper and its inability to upgrade to fiber to offer a competitive level of service quality on a par with cable TV.


InfoStack said...


Very good points. Entner is widely quoted. Hopefully you leave your comments on the Yahoo article as well as anywhere else he might have made similar false assertions.

It will take a while for markets to understand and appreciate the horizontal vs vertical model, as they don't understand or apply network theory and economics well to the carrier model.


Fred Pilot said...

Telecom market microeconomics is extremely important and typically ignored or glossed over in media and analyst coverage that tends to focus on service offerings but doesn't delve into widespread market failure at the last mile network edge that occurs throughout much of the U.S. and not just in rural areas.

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