The FCC’s Enhanced
Transaction Review Standard

Posted by: Joan Marsh on September 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

Over a year ago, AT&T filed an application seeking to acquire two Lower 700 MHz B Block licenses from Club 42 CM Limited Partnership. AT&T’s ownership of 700 MHz B Block licenses is wholly uncontroversial – we purchased many in the 700 MHz auction and have been enhancing our B block footprint through small deals for some time.

As with the other B block deals before it, there is no real argument against the merits of this acquisition. The transaction involves bare spectrum that will provide AT&T with a sufficient position to support a 10 x 10 MHz LTE deployment in 700 MHz in the relevant markets. A contiguous 10 x 10 MHz configuration is more spectrally efficient and has a greater throughput than a 5 x 5 MHz deployment. The more robust LTE network made possible by this transaction will improve spectral efficiency, increase network capacity and enable us to offer faster, higher quality services to our customers. For these reasons, the Commission has repeatedly found that transactions that enable 10 x 10 MHz LTE deployments serve the public interest and has approved them.

Yet, and without offering any cogent argument or justification, CCA and T-Mobile have opposed the deal, arguing that the Commission should simply prohibit any incremental low-band spectrum aggregation by AT&T and Verizon. Period. They essentially assert that low band spectrum transactions should be deemed presumptively unlawful for any company named AT&T or Verizon.

Read More

The British are Coming (and This Time They Want Pricing Regulation)

Posted by: Bob Quinn on September 10, 2015 at 8:10 am

The Financial Times (FT) ran a story recently highlighting British Telecom’s efforts to get the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to re-establish stricter rate regulation over special access services sold to business customers.   The essence of BT’s position was that BT was paying more for special access service than anywhere else in the western world and getting poor performance to boot, therefore the United States should re-establish strict rate regulation like that adopted in other countries, particularly the UK.   In filings in the US, BT and others have argued for the US to abandon the bi-partisan policies adopted in the late 1990s and early 2000s  to promote investment in fiber and other technologies necessary to provide fast Internet services in the US.

By all accounts, those were wildly successful policies, stimulating massive broadband infrastructure investment in the United States, where, even today, fiber expansion is exploding – AT&T itself committed to build 12.5 million new fiber-to-the-home connections as part of the recent DIRECTV merger.  Conversely, other parts of the world, including the UK, have been left to figure out how to change their regulatory environments to promote a similar level of broadband infrastructure investment.

Where’s the Investment?

Before getting to BT’s claims that it pays more for special access services here in the U.S. than elsewhere and for poorer service, let’s first discuss the most important thing that BT did not even mention in the FT article….And, that’s investment in infrastructure.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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.”

Read More

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.”

Read More