A Most Unusual Deal

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on October 22, 2014 at 10:15 am

While the comment period on our merger with DIRECTV won’t close until November 5th, the recent round of filings allows us to take stock of where this deal stands in terms of both support and opposition.  And I’d have to say that, so far, we’re very encouraged.

As my fellow telecom policy nerds know, the FCC process requires us to show that the combination of DIRECTV with AT&T is in the public interest.  We’ve taken this obligation very seriously.  In fact, well before the deal was announced, we began analyzing those benefits, building them into the decision about whether to go forward with the transaction.  That in itself may be unusual for a merger.

Now, as we review the filings, it’s great to see so many citing the positive impact those benefits will have for their business, community, state, members, or constituency.  The FCC filings to date show that support for this merger is both deep and broad, and seems to fall into a number of categories:

Labor

Normally, one of the first concerns with any merger is the impact on jobs.   In this case, organized labor has clearly concluded this merger is good for workers.  No less a source than AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka wrote that the merger was not only good for workers, but would also benefit consumers because it “will result in increased competition.”  Our largest union, the CWA, echoed this view as did 12 state AFL-CIOs , three state building and construction trade union affiliates, as well as the Minnesota SEIU. It’s hard to recall any merger ever getting such strong support from organized labor.

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AT&T Statement on the Deployment
Of Wireless Broadband Infrastructure

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer:

“The FCC order adopted today will expedite the deployment of new and modified wireless facilities, and it provides clarification of certain federal statutes that were enacted to streamline state and local review of wireless infrastructure deployments.  The regulatory relief gained from this order will directly benefit consumers as wireless carriers increasingly rely on a combination of macro sites, distributed antenna systems and small cell deployments to improve service.  The Commission’s action is another important step helping accelerate broadband deployment and we look forward to working with the Commission as well as state, tribal and local authorities on additional improvements.”

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AT&T Statement on the
White House Initiative BuySecure

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

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

“AT&T applauds the White House for the steps it is taking, and its efforts to highlight the actions companies have taken, to protect consumer identification when they make retail purchases. AT&T values and respects the privacy of our customers and, to that end, employs a holistic security program that includes technologies such as enhanced encryption and access control to manage risk for all of our services, including retail.”

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Accelerating Broadband, Part III

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

By Jeanine Poltronieri, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

I was very encouraged last week after reading a blog by Roger Sherman, Chief of the FCC’s Wireless Bureau, on the Commission’s draft report and order to modernize and streamline the rules for cellular licenses in the 800 MHz band.

During the year that the FCC set aside spectrum for the first cellular licenses, Ronald Reagan was President, Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, MTV was launched and video killed the radio star.  A lot can change in 30 years.

When these cellular licenses were first granted, the rules required a great deal of information on each cell site that the licensee used to provide service.  Almost any time the licensee made a change to a cell site, or the equipment on it, new filings had to be prepared by the licensee and processed by the Commission.  Changes like antenna model number, antenna center height, or structure height. And although the Commission later required filings for boundary sites only, the vast majority of these filings made little, if any, change to the service the consumer was receiving.  The paperwork merely reflected changes that are necessary to keep the network running and meeting customer demand.

Since networks are constantly responding to changes in environment (like trees leafing out or the construction of new buildings), as well as customer needs, these filings occurred frequently.  As a side note, the FCC, the FAA and local authorities already have other rules and requirements that apply to tower siting, so some of the tower-specific information that’s filed with cellular changes already exists in other systems.  The current rules are indeed burdensome and can stall progress, especially when the licensee must wait for Commission approval before changes can be made to provide service.

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Accelerating Broadband, Part II

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm

A couple months ago, the FCC unanimously adopted an order streamlining the rules for tower marking and lighting.  That was the first in a series of Wireless Bureau items designed to remove regulatory obstacles to clear the way for more efficient broadband deployment.  The Bureau is now moving forward with an even more ambitious effort to rationalize the rules around tower siting and approvals. Reform in this area is not a simple exercise of cutting through regulatory red tape.

Tower deployment is governed by a complex web of environmental, historic, safety and tribal requirements that require input and approval from a broad range of federal, state and local governmental authorities and non-governmental entities.  Detailed programmatic agreements further define requirements and inform the scope of permissible reform.  Yet modernization of the rules is essential, as the current requirements inhibit efficient broadband deployment, particularly given the continued movement by the wireless industry toward more low profile antennas and equipment and builds on existing non-tower structures.

At AT&T, infrastructure deployment is a prime directive.   For the past six years (2008-2013), AT&T has invested more in United States infrastructure than any other U.S. public company.  And we expect to continue that investment in the $21 billion range this year. That’s why the FCC’s focus on infrastructure deployment is so welcome.

The item circulated by the Bureau last week is expected to contain a series of straight-forward and sensible reforms consistent with programmatic requirements that will expedite environmental and historic preservation review of new and modified wireless facilities.  We also believe the item will provide much needed clarification of certain federal statutes that were enacted to streamline state and local review of wireless infrastructure proposals.

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