Getting the Incentive Auction Right

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 6, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Today, the FCC cast a series of votes that set the stage for the incentive auction to move toward its slated March 2016 start.  The results of the votes, however, are a mixed bag and leave significant wireless industry concerns unanswered.

On the one hand, the FCC has finally resolved the protracted debate on the reserve and its triggers, putting to rest at last T-Mobile’s never-ending quest to expand the favors it will receive at auction. That decision was long over-due and essential to moving the process forward, and the Commission was right to reject T-Mobile’s demands.

On the other hand, some of the auction framework proposals adopted today raise significant questions about the value and utility of the spectrum that will be made available at auction.

First, the FCC has reserved for itself significant flexibility to affirmatively create impairments in the new wireless allocations by assigning broadcasters in-band.  In the past, FCC band plans have failed to properly account for existing interference concerns (think 700 MHz), but never in the history of FCC auctions has the Commission chosen to affirmatively create long-lasting and debilitating in-band impairments.  This not only repeats the sins of the 700 MHz band – which remains under-deployed to this day – it doubles down on them. 

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AT&T Statement on FCC’s
Tech Transitions Order

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Please attribute the following to Frank Simone, AT&T Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“In the National Broadband Plan, the Commission clearly recognized the critical need to modernize our country’s communications system, and carriers have invested billions of dollars to make this happen. The ongoing transition from a circuit-switched network to an IP-based platform – over which voice, data and video services converge – has created extraordinary opportunities for consumers.  The order adopted today threatens to stifle this transition by erecting new regulatory obstacles that serve to benefit not consumers, investment or competition but rather select companies.

“The FCC cannot call on the industry to invest in more fiber deployment, raise the bar for what qualifies as a broadband service and then make it more difficult to retire services that do not even qualify as broadband.  We share the Commission’s goal to protect consumers as this revolutionary technological movement continues. But requiring carriers to prolong the use of and maintain an outdated infrastructure is not the way to go about doing that.”

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AT&T Statement on Progress of
Trans Pacific Partnership

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 1, 2015 at 9:22 am

The following statement may be attributed to Len Cali, AT&T Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy:

“We commend Ambassador Mike Froman and the Office of the United States Trade Representative on the progress made on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and urge the negotiators to finalize a high standard agreement as soon as possible.  The TPP, once finalized and adopted, will help set the rules for the 21st century for all sectors of the economy, including e-commerce, and provide us with the opportunity to further U.S. economic growth, job creation and investment.”

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Choosing the Right Way

Posted by: Frank Simone on July 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

In the hypercompetitive wireless market, mobile service providers are constantly pushing the envelope to bring better, faster and cheaper services to consumers. Such is the case with the ability to make voice calls over Wi-Fi networks, which enables consumers to make calls in areas that are challenging to serve, like deep indoors, underground and in remote parts of the country.  And because the wireless market moves at a hypercompetitive speed, with several competitors already offering Wi-Fi calling, we have requested that the FCC move with similar speed to act on AT&T’s waiver petition so we can deploy Wi-Fi while maintaining compliance with existing FCC rules.

As we prepare to roll out the service later this year, we’ve made it a top priority to ensure that the new technology is accessible to our customers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have experienced hearing loss, or have speech disabilities.  Some of these customers currently use a 1960’s era technology called a teletypewriter, or TTY.  Current FCC rules require voice services to be TTY- compatible, with specific requirements to transmit 911 (public safety) and 711 (telecom relay services) calls made from a TTY device. The challenge mobile service providers now face is that TTY doesn’t work reliably on Wi-Fi technology because of its sensitivity to packet loss and the considerable variance in Wi-Fi signal strength in real-world applications. We therefore have begun working to implement an alternate solution called Real-Time Text, or RTT.

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Stop the Magenta Madness:
A Word on the Spectrum Reserve

Posted by: Joan Marsh on July 2, 2015 at 10:38 am

We don’t have a slick cartoon full of super heroes and telecom villains.  We aren’t generating a raft of identically-worded robo-letters.  And we aren’t tweeting apocalyptic rants about the demise of wireless choice.  But we do care about the 600 MHz spectrum auction – a lot – and we support the Chairman’s decision to deny certain pending petitions for reconsideration that seek to undermine the balanced solution reached on the spectrum reserve question more than a year ago.

As is often the case, the rhetoric has gotten so heated that some fundamental facts have been all but lost.  The fact is that T-Mobile can bid on any and all blocks of spectrum that will be made available in the 600 MHz auction – not just the spectrum in the reserve.  In the spectrum reserve, T-Mobile will have access to a full 30 MHz of spectrum free from any bidding competition in most major markets from either Verizon or AT&T.

Indeed, when the Commission adopted the reserve framework last year, it created an unprecedented opportunity for two national carriers – T-Mobile and Sprint – to enjoy significant auction advantages over the two other national carriers in the most data-congested markets in the nation.  Never in the history of FCC auctions have two national carriers been given such preferences.

Yet, T-Mobile has demanded more – over and over and over again.

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