AT&T Statement on FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Proposal

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Attribute the following to AT&T Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs Jim Cicconi:

“We continue to believe that a middle ground exists that will allow us to safeguard the open Internet without risk to needed investment and years of legal uncertainty. We were able to find such a path in 2010, and will do our very best to seek such a path today. We also hope that proponents of Title II will consider that any FCC action taken on a partisan vote can be undone by a future commission in similar fashion, or may be declared invalid by the courts. The best way to ensure that open Internet protections, investment and innovation endure is for people of good faith to come together on a bipartisan basis for that purpose. We believe such an opportunity exists today.”

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Title II Closing Arguments

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on February 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Today, AT&T made a couple of filings at the FCC regarding its authority to reclassify Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers. Given that this decision seems driven by political considerations, I hold out little hope that the FCC will alter its course, but the letters nonetheless try to set out what we see as significant infirmities with reclassification.

The first letter addresses the substantive question of whether ISPs are information service providers, telecommunications service providers, or both. Much of the debate over this question has focused on the Supreme Court’s decision in Brand X and, in particular, Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion. Putting aside the Constitutional Law 101 principle that dissenting opinions are  not binding precedent, Justice Scalia’s dissent made clear that, in his view, ISPs provide both an information service and a telecommunications service and that the telecommunications service ends where the information service begins. This comes through loud and clear in the various analogies he used to explain why he thought that ISPs provided a transmission service in addition to an information service. At one point he compares ISPs to pizzerias that offer a combination of pizza and home delivery. At another point he compares them to a pet store that sells dogs with a leash. At no time did he suggest that there was no pizza or dog in the transaction.

We disagree with Justice Scalia’s view that ISPs simultaneously offer both an information service and a telecommunications service.  The FCC has long adhered to an interpretation of the statute under which these definitions are mutually exclusive. Such a reading follows naturally from the fact that, according to the statute, information services are provided via telecommunications. As consequence, and as noted by the Brand X majority, without mutual exclusivity all information services would become vulnerable to the artificial separation of their information and telecommunications components. In this construct, the definitions, which are intended to serve as Congressionally-defined boundaries for the FCC’s jurisdiction, become little more than semantic speed bumps.

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I Know It Because I
Read It on the Internet

Posted by: Bob Quinn on December 18, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I spoke at an investor conference on Tuesday hosted by Capitol Forum. Not surprisingly, the topic of the panel was net neutrality – what else would anyone want to talk about this holiday season.  Also not surprisingly, one of the panelists, a proponent of Title II classification of Internet service, asserted that the cable ISPs were okay with Title II and would continue to invest at current levels in their networks regardless of whether the FCC imposed Title II on their broadband networks.

I was pretty sure my co-panelist was referring to a Washington Post column from Tuesday containing snippets of quotes from executives of Time Warner, Comcast and Charter made at a UBS Analyst event held last week.  I had read that article and I disagreed that that was what the cable executives were saying or that quotes selected supported the proposition of the column.  Before I could get into it, however, an attendee at the conference took the microphone to state that he had, in fact,  attended the UBS conference and that all of the cable executives who appeared there were adamantly opposed to Title II regulation –disagreeing entirely with the characterization of my co-panelist.  I thought that really closed down that topic.  I was, however, wrong.

After the conference, the Washington Post ran a second story titled, “Why Broadband Execs Are Telling Washington and Wall Street Different Things On Net Neutrality” and quoting me from statements I had made after the panel. The story asserted that the cable companies were telling one tale to Wall Street – that the imposition of Title II would have no impact on investment decisions – while telling a different tale to Washington regulators:

“The companies are telling investors that they’ll keep making their networks better, just like always — even if federal regulators adopt aggressive Internet rules. But that’s not what regulators are hearing from the companies, who are telling them that those same rules would depress investment in the network and hurt consumers.”

So, now I was really intrigued to see exactly what these executives said at the UBS conference.  I obtained a copy of the Comcast transcript from the Comcast website and I listened to the webcast of the Time Warner Cable presentation on the Time Warner Cable website.

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Red Herrings and Bogeymen: Setting the Record Straight on TruePosition’s Misinformation Campaign

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on December 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

By Joe Marx, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory

TruePosition and its fully-controlled FindMe911 coalition is at it again, spreading misinformation and ill-informed criticisms of the APCO, NENA, and Wireless Industry Roadmap for Improving Location Accuracy.  Others have blogged to explain the benefits and merits of the Roadmap, and it’s our experience that the more people hear about the voluntary agreement and fully understand the enormous improvements it will bring to finding wireless callers in times of emergency, the more they like it and support it.

We don’t expect to convert TruePosition, or its well-known spokesperson Jamie Barnett, but we can set the record straight on the misinformation campaign they are waging in an attempt to raise fears, uncertainties and doubts.

TruePosition alleges that the carrier approach depends entirely on “new and untested technologies.” Setting aside the fact that TruePosition did not participate in the independent test bed established by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) and that its technologies are not mentioned even once in the FCC’s test report, this allegation is simply not true.  Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies have been in use for years in commercial location services, and are central to the current wireless ecosystem in ways that will drive strong incentives for further innovation and lasting relevance for years to come. By associating enhanced 911 (e911) with commercial location services, public safety can harness that innovation to its direct benefit – and the benefit of wireless consumers everywhere – rather than having to settle for proprietary 911-only location solutions that evolve only in response to new mandates. In contrast, the database approach of the Roadmap enables continual improvements in indoor location accuracy without need of a lengthy carrier-deployment process.

TruePosition also wrongly suggests that the Roadmap doesn’t require carriers to provide dispatchable address/location. Again, not true. There are specific requirements for the carriers to build a dispatchable address database and to enable 100% of handsets sold to support the dispatchable address functionality. And given this investment and increasingly difficult performance metrics, carriers will use dispatchable addresses to meet these milestones. It is a win for public safety and a win for consumers.

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AT&T Statement on New
Connect America Fund Rules

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on December 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

The following statement may be attributed to an AT&T spokesperson:

“In 2011, the FCC began comprehensive reform of its universal service programs to transition them from voice services to broadband. Today’s action is a significant milestone on this ambitious agenda. CAF II will target universal service subsidies to places where there is not an adequate business case for broadband. Moreover, the FCC appears to be taking significant steps toward phasing out obsolete voice obligations. We look forward to learning more details of the FCC’s action when they are available.”

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