Jim Cicconi Reflects on 20 Years
Under 1996 Telecommunications Act

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Federal Communications Law Journal (FCLJ) has compiled 32 essays from people who were “involved in the Act’s drafting, implementation, and attendant legal challenges.”  Below is an excerpt from a piece written by Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs:

Passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 offers great perspective on today’s political and policy gridlock in Washington.  It signified a moment in time when an Administration and far-sighted legislators from both parties, holding different perspectives, but all keenly interested in the dawning Internet age, joined ranks to craft a statute that was far-reaching in its scope and visionary in its impact.

At bottom, the framers of the ’96 Act embraced a wise humility toward technology and its future development. They were conscious of the Communications Act of 1934’s sixty-year legacy, and wanted their work to last. It took nearly six years over three Congressional sessions to negotiate, compromise, draft and re-draft what ultimately became the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and their work provided a roadmap for the future of the nation’s communications landscape.

Indeed, the framers of the Act did their work better than they perhaps knew, piloting the ship of telecommunications policy through a foggy harbor into an open and unknown sea towards a destination of today’s cross platform communications marketplace. In retrospect, it is easy to forget how different things looked at the advent of the Internet. Back then, a consumer reached the Internet over a slow, twisted pair telephone line. The incumbent telephone companies who provided those lines were just starting to see the effects of competitive entry into their markets. Back then, the companies that comprised the current AT&T operated just over 70,000,000 switched access voice telephone lines. We didn’t provide any video services, and DIRECTV had just passed 1,000,000 video subscribers in the United States. The entire cellular industry had just over 44 million subscribers in the United States. The cable companies had not yet entered the voice market. The Internet existed but, broadband was still off in the future. It was a world where the dominant companies were traditional telephone companies, like Southwestern Bell, BellSouth, NYNEX and Bell Atlantic. Facebook, Google, and Twitter didn’t exist (Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old when the Act passed). Apple was foundering in the wake of Microsoft’s dominance, having fired Steve Jobs eight years earlier.

The complete essay is available here.



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Remarks of Jim Cicconi at the Emerging Issues Policy Forum: 2016 Digital Pathway Summit

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm

The following are remarks of Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, as prepared for delivery at the Emerging Issues Policy Forum: 2016 Digital Pathway Summit, Amelia Island, Florida, Thursday, January 14, 2016:

Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be among so many friends.  I’d like to give you an industry perspective.  Specifically, I’d like to share a few thoughts on how investment and innovation in broadband infrastructure has brought about technological advancements and adoption faster than any technology ever.

First, a bit of historical perspective.  After Edison invented the incandescent filament light bulb, it was 46 years before electricity had been adopted by one-quarter of the US population. It took 35 years for the telephone, 31 for radio.  It was 26 years before a quarter of the country adopted television. It took 16 years for PCs, 13 years for mobile phones, 7 years for dial-up Internet and even less for broadband.  It’s staggering to think that the first iPhone was introduced on 2G technology only 8½ years ago.  The velocity of technological change is incredible.

And what does that adoption look like?

Today, a full 84% of Americans adults use the Internet, compared to just 52% in 2000. That figure is even higher when looking just at younger people: 96% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 use the Internet.

Today, 90% of U.S. households have three or more Internet-connected devices, and the average number of connected devices per household is 5.2.

In a remarkably short amount of time we have gone from the cellphone being a gimmicky toy of the rich and famous to having nine in ten Americans owning a cell phone. Even more impressive, more than two-thirds of American adults now own a smartphone, up from 35% just 5 years ago.

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Prepared Remarks by Jim Cicconi at the Brussels Internet & Telecom Seminar

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on June 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

The following are prepared remarks delivered earlier today by Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, at the Brussels Internet & Telecom Seminar:

Thank you for having me here today. I am pleased to be in Brussels, and a part of this discussion about Regulatory Modernization. 

This is an important topic for all of us, both in Europe and the US. 

I’ll be the first person to recognize that the different facts in each country can require different policy tools, even when there are common goals.  With that in mind, though, I hope it will be helpful to this panel discussion if I share my thoughts, based largely on US experience, on the topic of what needs to happen with regulation to inspire investment in the networks of the future. 

Full disclosure:  I’m a policy guy, and I’m not ashamed of it.  I think it’s important to talk about the relationship between technology and regulation.  Why?  Because in this conversation among all of us in the private sector and government, we need to find a good balance, with the right policies to guide market forces. If we don’t get the regulatory framework right, we won’t tap the full potential of what new technology can do for our economy and society.

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Jim Cicconi: The IP Platform: Consumers Are Making The Transition…Can Regulators Do the Same?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on June 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

At the Communication Exchange Committee today in Washington, DC, AT&T’s Jim Cicconi spoke about the importance of transitioning to an all-IP network.  Following are his remarks as prepared for delivery.

I think we are in a unique position here today – a position of consensus, or at least near-consensus. I believe the timing of this session, and its theme, are important because increasingly three things are becoming obvious to us.

That the communications market is very quickly evolving to a broadband, IP market where the traditional services simply become applications riding on an IP infrastructure… and where consumers not only have thousands, of different ways to interact with each other digitally, but they are in control of what they use and how they use it.

That this move to IP is a very good thing, and that it’s in the public interest it move even faster.

And that the traditional regulatory approach – whereby individual services were each regulated by their own set of rules inside of a regulatory silo – has been totally overtaken, and made virtually nonsensical, by this new IP world.

So we are all here today to discuss how are we going to make this great leap from POTS to Internet, from TDM to IP, from a voice network to a broadband network where voice is just one of many communications applications riding on that infrastructure.

So while it may seem obvious, we have to get the policies right, we have to create the right incentives to get the infrastructure built and we have to preserve a marketplace where consumers are in control of how, when and the means by which they communicate with one another.  And I’d submit that policymakers have got to move faster lest the old laws, regulations and mindsets that are still in place warp or even damage this vital transformation.

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Jim Cicconi’s Opening Remarks from “National Broadband Plan: The Early Reaction” at The Press Club

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

The Technology Policy Institute and the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosted a discussion today on the FCC’s newly announced National Broadband Plan. Panel discussions focused on the plan’s impact on investment and broadband penetration. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President, Jim Cicconi participated in a panel titled “Increasing Incentives to Innovate and Invest.” His opening remarks are included in the video below.

He was joined by – Moderator: Tom Lenard – TPI, Kyle McSlarrow – NCTA, Peter Pitsch – Intel, Greg Rosston – SIEPR (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research,) and Tom Tauke – Verizon. To follow the event in progress, you can follow @NextGenWeb or check back here later for links to full video of the conference including the panel referenced above.

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