On May 26th, 2011 René Obermann, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Telekom stood in front of a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee and delivered his introductory remarks concerning the sale of T-Mobile USA to AT&T. He announced: “I firmly believe that this transaction is the best possible outcome – not only for DT, T-Mobile USA and AT&T – but for our customers and for wireless competition and innovation in the United States” (T-Mobile Blog, 2011). According to the president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Ed Black this announcement is “about the most brazen merger proposal in history,” and he is only one of many expressing concern (Gross, 2011). By looking back at the history of cellular networks and AT&T’s prominence in the US telecommunications market, this paper examines the acquisition from a historical perspective while also looking at the future of cellular technology in the US. Read More
Several months ago when Facebook questions were just starting to get traction, I answered one of the first questions that popped up in my stream (I can’t seem to unfollow it now but I’ll leave this for another post). The question, posted by the Common Language Project, was “Should NPR’s federal funding be cut?” After pondering over it for a minute and thinking about the small proportion of funds that actually come from the government I cast my vote. I reasoned that NPR’s federal funding should be cut because I don’t think it’s a vital part of NPR’s operating budget and because I believe that it should be “listener powered” much like KEXP here in Seattle.
The Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian made me revisit my previous stance on “federal funding” and forced me to look at it more as “public funding”. Some of Bagdikian’s rant has been abolished or “disrupted” by the Internet however there are several timeless pieces that are still worth thinking about. I think there is still a false limitation between broadcasting being perceived either as “government propaganda” or commercial broadcasting (“two-model fallacy”) and would argue that if anything it’s only grown stronger in recent years. I also agree that objections to public broadcasting are primarily ideological but as economic issues continue to come to the forefront, ideological battles for privatization framed in-terms of budget cuts become a winning strategy. It will be quite fascinating to look back at the current debates and to see how our economic status influenced our public policies. Read More
Tonight I lead two discussions about changes in media technologies that have taken place in the last 5o years. When I first began I think people were surprised by the definition of ego casting and the pictures of the old remote controls but when I transitioned into some of the studies and effects people started to tune me out. Several of them regained focus when I got into DVR use and the recent statistics but I think I again lost them with the iPod commentary. Looking back, I could have just presented the viewer loyalty study along with a more recent study of cable television use and then talked about the effects. To spice up the ending I should found some statistics on record sales vs. digital downloads.
One thing I didn’t expect was that several of the people in my discussion groups mentioned that they’d recently gotten rid of a media technology they regularly used. For some this was purely a case of over consumption and for others the TV was replaced with a computer screen. One person mentioned that she had disposed of her TV several years ago and recently decided to experiment by getting a new one. She described the experience as being “similar to a crack head relapsing.”
Everyone seemed to agree on music. Services like Pandora have expanded our culture by exposing us to new music that is similar to our taste within the context of our everyday listing. Nearly everyone had examples of new things they had been introduced to via services like Pandora or social networking sites, YouTube and other content sharing networks. Very few people could think of an example of a technology that caused group polarization. I gave the example of my dad watching Fox news when he finally got cable television and one other person mentioned someone she knows who had just started using email and was politically influenced by the emails they were receiving from friends because of their perceived references (links). This made me curious as to whether or not changes in culture are easier to pinpoint than group polarization but we ran out of time.
Within my exploration of the U.S. cellular market I will use Metcalfe’s law as a theoretical framework to explain the value of past, present and future market events. Metcalfe’s Law states “[i]n a network with N users, each sees a value proportional to the N-1 others, so the total value of the network grows as N*(N-1), or as N squared for large N.” (Metcalfe, 1995) While Metcalfe himself admits the law can overestimate or underestimate the value of a network, the framework provides perspective when looking at telecom mergers, regulatory measures and other cellular market events.Read More