The Wi-Fi / LTE Unlicensed
Debate: A Path Forward

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 12, 2015 at 10:48 am

Much ink has been spilled to date on the question of whether and how, and under what conditions, Wi-Fi and LTE unlicensed technologies can peacefully co-exist in existing and new unlicensed bands.  I don’t propose to add to that growing body of literature.  I write instead to endorse a path forward: One that side-steps the prolonged battle of the interference testing that is currently underway; one that walks back from the invitation to the FCC to crawl inside the inner workings of new LTE unlicensed technologies to examine everything from received energy to exponential back-off mechanisms; and one that was originally proposed by Harold Feld in his epic multi-installment blog on this issue.

I start from the battle lines as currently drawn.  Wi-Fi proponents have asserted, and appear to fervently believe, that LTE unlicensed proponents are completely indifferent toward Wi-Fi services deployed in bands like 5 GHz, and are prepared to launch new LTE unlicensed services that will destroy them.  As a result, Wi-Fi proponents have engaged in a multi-front campaign against the new LTE unlicensed technologies at the Commission, on the Hill and at football stadiums across the country – focusing, at least at the outset, on LTE-U but reserving some healthy skepticism for LTE-LAA as well.

LTE unlicensed proponents have responded with a clear demonstration that their new unlicensed devices will fully comply with Part 15 of the FCC’s rules and they have provided a detailed catalog of reasons why they believe the Wi-Fi proponents are wrong and their fears badly misplaced.  They have also pointed out that there appears to be no way to meet the ever-changing threshold of co-existence proof that the Wi-Fi proponents are demanding.

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AT&T Statement on Release of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Text

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on November 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs:

TPP brings higher standards and protections to countries that represent nearly 40 percent of the global economy.  It will open markets and establish rules of the road for a 21st Century digital economy.  The e-Commerce commitments in TPP also provide a benchmark for reference in future trade agreements. We commend the Office of the United States Trade Representative for their tireless efforts, and hope Congress will work to ratify this agreement as soon as possible.”

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The War on Infrastructure Investment?

Posted by: Bob Quinn on November 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

UPDATE: November 4, 2015 at 11: 55 – FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Special Counsel contacted us this morning to object to the use of the word “exhort” in characterizing the Light Reading article which described her remarks at the Incompas conference in San Francisco last month.  Out of respect to Ms. Sohn’s concerns, we removed the word “exhort” from the blog. It doesn’t change any of the analysis, however.  We’re still not rocket scientists, and we still see where this is headed.  And it’s not good for private investment.


This has been an interesting couple of weeks in the area of private fiber infrastructure investment policies in the United States.  It started with news that the FCC is sending out “SWAT” teams of FCC employees to preach the use of Universal Service Fund (USF) and E-Rate dollars to build government-owned and operated broadband infrastructure in rural and non-rural areas. For a flavor of the message, take a look at the speech given by the head of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning at the North Carolina Rural Center’s broadband conference. Similar presentations and meetings are purportedly occurring across the country.

Because the FCC voted to preempt state laws that prohibit municipalities from using tax dollars to build broadband facilities where private-sector funded broadband infrastructure already exists, I suppose the move to hire consultants and send government employees to promote those networks is not shocking.  To be clear, we at AT&T have no problem with government-owned networks in areas where there has been a market failure because the economics for the private sector just don’t work. Unfortunately, the FCC’s advocacy here, like the agency’s preemption decision itself, doesn’t appear to be limited to circumstances of market failure.  And, bottom line, government owned networks are going to have a negative impact on private investment. But the FCC’s desire to insert itself in the marketplace doesn’t end there.

The Commission has also opened a proceeding to examine the terms and conditions surrounding plans that offer discounts off lawful month-to-month special access rates (plans that, according to the DC Circuit Court, carriers are not even obligated to offer).  The crux of the arguments made by the competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) community in support of this investigation boils down to the assertion that they want the significant discounts that attach to term and volume commitments without actually making any term or volume commitments.  I get it.  When I go to Costco, it would be great to be able to buy a single box of tissues at the per unit price for 50 boxes. But that’s just not how a volume discount works.

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AT&T Applauds Rep. Anna Eshoo and Chairman Walden on their Commitment to Facilitate Broadband Deployment

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Tim McKone, AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations:

“We appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Ranking Member Anna Eshoo and Chairman Greg Walden to introduce legislation that will help lower the cost of broadband deployment throughout the nation. This bill will minimize the construction costs and inconveniences associated with the installation of fiber-optic communications facilities in areas where highways are being built or repaired with federal funding. We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors and the full Committee as this bill progresses.”

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AT&T Statement on FCC Tariff Investigation on Special Access

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Frank Simone, AT&T Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“According to Chairman Wheeler the need for FCC intervention decreases in a competitive marketplace. That’s why today’s designation order is so perplexing. Opening a tariff investigation on special access services is a step towards rate re-regulation in a space that is highly competitive and getting more so as cable companies and other new entrants aggressively compete.  The terms the Commission is reviewing are commonplace in most commercial contracts and in fact are being used by our competitors in their own contracts. Each day the Commission wastes investigating and interfering in commercial agreements between companies that build infrastructure and those that do not is a day it is not encouraging fiber investment or looking boldly towards the benefits those investments will provide to consumers.”

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