Whether AT&T and Comcast are right or wrong about their business strategy, both have one clear view of what has to be done. In addition to operating access networks with a “dumb pipe” character, both companies believe they absolutely must own at least some of the apps delivered using their pipes.
For both firms, that means owning major content creation assets and programming networks.
Verizon, so far, is not as keen as the idea of owning content assets, but has a similar strategy in the connected car and other internet of things areas, where the objective is to own software service and content assets (app layer), not just the physical and network layers (layers one and two)
And AT&T (and most other access companies) likely agree that video will be the media type representing the overwhelming amount of network traffic. Video will be the dominant payload on future networks, says AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey.
As part of this movement, AT&T will transform from being a “phone and broadband distribution company to a company of tastes” he said. Substitute the word “personalization” or “customization” and you will understand where AT&T wants to go.
In the past, pre-packaged solutions were wht AT&T sold, when customers increasingly indicate they want customization and personalization. Talking about video entertainment, for example, Stankey says “we added steps, hoops, rules, and requirements when simpler models were emerging everywhere.”
In the future, that is why over the top video entertainment eventually will win, and why other apps and services are likely to move towards more-flexible end user packaging.
The important broader point is that, going forward, most tier-one service providers will probably have to pursue a similar strategy. Since nearly all revenue-generating apps and services, for businesses or consumers, now run “over the top,” access providers have to operate at multiple levels of the stack: not just access, but also apps.