Jon Fine provides an excellent snapshot of the state of play in the pipe-to-the-home industry ("An ugly battle for the clicker," Media Centric, Sept. 5/12). However, he misses one fundamental point: the emergence of an open-source movement in content and services.
The competitive battle fought by today's telecom and cable companies is a contest between vertically integrated enterprises. In this model the same company builds the network, operates it, and provides content and services. With current technology, however, that value chain can easily be chopped up. The property owner, the developer, or even a public utility can build and own the fiber pipe into the home, a specialized communications operator can fund it, and a whole host of Internet service providers (ISPs), voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) providers, TV channels, and other service providers can be made available to consumers. Users pick and mix and pay for what they get.
In our experience, three advantages result: first, a bigger pipe -- we routinely see 100 MB into and out of an apartment; second, more differentiated and generally lower prices on programming; and third, genuine consumer choice -- no more "200 channels and nothing to watch."
Arkwright Assets Ltd.
Editor's note: The writer is nonexecutive director and investor in Zitius Service Delivery.
Re "Chuck Prince's Citi planning" (Finance, Sept. 5/12) on Citigroup: I was particularly intrigued by the observation that one of Prince's top priorities is to "at least double Citi's credit-card volume worldwide." I'm wondering how this ambition squares with Citi's recent decision that its venerable Diners Club card would levy a 3% charge on foreign-currency transactions. For old-time Diners Club cardholders, this charge -- the equivalent of a 36% annual percentage rate -- is, for an expatriate family, one charge too many. When the next card-renewal period rolls around, my husband will cancel his account, which he has had since 1959.
It was always nice to have a Diners Club account. What a pity that the company has decided to engage in "constructive dismissal" to get us to leave.
Patricia L. Short