February 18th, 2010

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Link Harvest: Qwest's Falling Profits

Qwest's profits fell significantly (49%) in Q4.

A couple of things to note for the telecom world. Some factors are unique to Qwest. Qwest is in a region that is particularly suffering from significant foreclosures and business failures, which contribute to a loss of lines and data customers. Qwest has also always been the weakest of three major telcos, because it's more extensive rural coverage area drives up cost and reduces rate of return. So when decline is spread among all industry participants, it is particularly precipitous for Qwest.

Qwest also lacks two things that have softened the blow for AT&T and Verizon: it lacks wireless and significant video offerings. AT&T and Verizon offset losses in landlines (which have been steadily declining for the last decade as customers dropped second lines in favor of DSL, "cut the chord" and relied solely on wireless, or switched to cable triple play packages).
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FCC Broadband Maps Very Interesting

The FCC last week issued its annual report on broadband deployment. I hope I shall have time to blog more on this later. But I wanted to briefly comment on the maps as quick visual illustrations of a few salient policy points. You can find them

The first shows the availability of "high speed internet access" as defined by the old 200 kbps downstream definition. That looks pretty good. Now flip to the next map, which uses the slightly better but still very slow definition of 768 kbps download. Notice the difference? Lesson: Geography matters for availability, and middle America is in danger of experiencing a
Vernor Vinge moment of being condemned to the "slow zone."

Note also the last slide: availability of mobile broadband providers. The number of even theoretical providers drops precipitously. Lesson: wireless is not any more "competitive" than wireline.