FCC's Tom Wheeler Says “Cable” Simply Has To Work with Him!

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: FCC's Tom Wheeler Says “Cable” Simply Has To Work with Him!

Makes no never-mind, Tom Wheeler's in charge.  And never mind “what’s cable”? Earlier this week I was at INTX in Boston, though I left the day before FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler talked to a diminished crowd as the National Cable2 Telecommunications Association event was winding down.

This was the second year of INTX, which means the Internet and Television Expo.  Clumsy.  But more accurate than just “cable.”  No one has actually figured out a new moniker for the new industry that rides on the back of what cable started: the Internet infrastructure.  That infrastructure now includes telco companies, wireless companies, wi-fi companies, fiber companies, social media companies, answer companies, Alphabet companies, FANG companies and more.  More companies -- including but not limited to Comcast, TiVo, Evolution and more -- are deploying devices that act as STBs that combine classic cable video offerings with integrated OTT upstarts (if Netflix can still be considered an upstart with more subs than any other company).

But Tom “the-wheels-are-coming-off” Wheeler showed up in Boston to harangue his old compatriots saying that, back then, when he was one of them, they were all on the side of creating more competition but that now they (but not he) were against competition.

He says he’s still for it.  Only Tom and his semi-regular two other Democratic votes are righteous.  If that were so, wouldn’t he allow a little competition from the two Republicans who tend to vote against him because they haven’t seen the stuff they’re being asked to vote for?

After looking closely at his attempt to explode the set-top box and its accompanying reams of contracts and relationships that are already being challenged in myriad ways (just think copyright) … well, that makes no sense.

All that competition and he’s still the only one against it.  I suppose it can never be enough.  Why else would you force the New Charter to overbuild a million homes?  That’s not producing competition when Charter extends plans to freeze out small ISPs.  That would have only made some sort of (probably illegal) sense if Charter were forced to overbuild Comcast or Verizon or AT&T.

Random Notes

It is official!  Charter and Comcast now together represent almost 70% of the cable part of the new broadband/video/media world that continues metamorphosing every second.  Wonder when we can bring them all together?  You know, the whole eco-system, not just cable.

Speaking of bringing together, the 50th Annual Cable TV Pioneers dinner was the biggest one ever; the venue was almost too small!  Great inductee comments, too.   Next evening had a re-do … the Cable Center Hall of Fame evening was just as terrific.

Nice INTX coverage this week by CableFAX and Multichannel News (both once my stomping grounds).  Though comments about the not-so-crowded show floor and the barely populated booths raise an interesting question: Will the show continue?  It will for certain next year in Washington, D.C. April 26-28.  After that?  Methinks some will be reconsidering it.

Next week we’re in Denver for the Media Finance Focus three-day confab (May 23-25) … always an interesting meeting.  This year, at Wednesday’s keynote, I’ll be interviewing Preston Padden so we should learn a lot more about the FCC’s Spectrum Auction progress … or lack thereof.

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