Moves and news: AOL (NYSE:AOL) asks the government (the FCC) to make sure TCI opens its cable lines for Internet and other providers of services as a condition of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of the world’s largest cable operator. TCI owns a big chunk of cable Internet service @Home (NASDAQ:ATHM) which basically has a lock on cable Internet services in the U.S. with all the leading cable operators thanks to TCI’s leverage. We think there’s a middle ground here, that cable operators who are paying billions to upgrade their networks deserve payback up front but that more dial-up telco-based efforts like AOL and the 4,000 ISPs in the U.S. may have a thing or two to say about the matter also.
In the end the solution as we see it: the FCC is going to have to put the regulations in place to open up cable services as “common carriers” (same as the telcos). Cable operators have enjoyed monopoly status far too long at the consumer’s expense and the Internet itself is built on open leverage, all new firms and businesses being able to build on a global platform, not pay a handful of cable operators for carriage.
What the FCC will discover is that a wire is a wire is a wire and that telco wires and cable wires are two flavors of the same broad industry: data movement. Infoseek (NASDAQ:SEEK) shares drop 11% to $29.625 per share on wider-than-expected loss (we reported its 3Q results yesterday here in Market Close). In our view the important metric to watch may be how the joint venture with Disney will come off, Go.com. It’s scheduled to debut before year’s end.
Beyond.com (NASDAQ:BYND) gains 16% to $9.25 per share in a doppler effect following its strong third-quarter results announced October 21. Beyond’s 3Q revenues reach $9.7 million, up 102% vs. 3Q97 while loss for 3Q98 is $8.9 million. Beyond sells software via the Internet. We also believe it may be riding renewed interest in Web software sellers such as Digital River (NASDAQ:DRIV), a software selling etail network (which we belive is a better approach to selling than a central hub, although both have advantages in different ways). More on this in Internet Stock Report soon.