Reaching a Sound 3.5 GHz Framework

Posted by: Joan Marsh on April 11, 2016 at 11:44 am

We’ve been watching with interest as a Further Order on the 3.5 GHz band plan is being considered by the FCC’s 8th floor. The Order proposes to preserve a Priority Access License, or PALs, scheme that has been broadly rejected by almost everyone who had advocated for the PALs approach. Given this opposition, it’s hard to see why the Commission remains committed to it.  “If you build it they will come” may be a slogan that works with magical baseball fields, but it’s not going to be an effective approach here.

It’s not hard to see why wireless operators are unenthusiastic.

First, it’s far from certain that a bidder will be able to obtain a rational PALs footprint at auction.  The Commission has concluded that, to ensure auction competition, it will require multiple bidders in each license area and auction one less PAL than the total number of PALs applied for in a given census tract.  This means that if only one carrier is interested in PALs in a given license area, zero PALs will be available.  Would-be PAL licensees could therefore simply find themselves locked out from the start in many license areas.  And, as many commentators have pointed out, the N-1 requirement will effectively act to reduce the number of PALs available over time, systematically phasing out PALs with each subsequent auction.  This alone is probably sufficient to discourage meaningful interest.

Read More

AT&T Statement on FCC’s
Actions on Lifeline, Privacy

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm

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

“Notwithstanding the controversy that occurred over the Lifeline action at today’s meeting, positive steps were taken to move Lifeline into the 21st century by beginning the transition of the program from voice to broadband. The agency also started the process of removing carriers from determining whether or not consumers are eligible to receive the benefits of Lifeline service.  The administrative reforms contemplated by today’s action will enable service providers to focus on better serving the participants in the program.  We appreciated that the agency took the time to engage with stakeholders to understand the industry’s issues that exist in the current program.

“The privacy rulemaking is a whole nother matter, however. The Commission was much less interested in crafting a solution that takes an even-handed approach to how the government addresses privacy on the Internet.  Today, all participants in the Internet ecosystem operate under the same privacy framework.  The FCC’s proposed approach would create an un-level playing field that would limit or even prohibit broadband providers from utilizing any of the ad-supported models adopted by edge providers that have proven so popular with consumers.  If that were not enough, the FCC’s approach will also confuse consumers who could fairly read today’s proclamations and conclude that the FCC has dramatically increased consumer privacy on the Internet.  It has not. This type of one-sided approach will cause customer confusion and will ultimately lead to higher broadband prices and less broadband deployment in the United States.”

Read More

Smart Grid Finds a
Home in WCS Band

Posted by: Joan Marsh on March 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

Yesterday, AT&T filed a petition outlining an innovative new smart grid solution for the unpaired Wireless Communications Service (WCS) C and D blocks.  Those steeped in the long history of the WCS band know that the technical restrictions needed to protect adjacent Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) and Aeronautical Mobile Telemetry (AMT) users severely constrain use of the WCS blocks.  Notwithstanding these challenges, AT&T remains on pace to deploy mobile and fixed broadband services to satisfy the FCC’s performance requirements for the paired WCS A and B Blocks.  Finding a noninterfering use for the C and D Blocks, however, has proven more daunting, even with the cooperation of our spectrum neighbors.

But last year, AT&T partnered with Nokia to design and develop a private, highly secure, high-capacity LTE network solution for smart grids – and related smart cities applications – using the C and D Block spectrum.  The proposed smart grid deployment will require no change to the technical rules governing the spectrum and – according to initial testing – will coexist well with adjacent SDARS and AMT uses.  AT&T and Nokia recently began to present this solution to utilities companies across the country and the proposal has garnered significant interest and the support of UTC.

Read More

TOPICS: FCC, LTE, Spectrum
Bookmark and Share

BT Overreach: Stale Data
Yield Rotten Results

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

 By Rich Clarke, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Public Policy 

BT Americas (BTA) has repeatedly beseeched the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke its regulatory flexibility granted to DS1 and DS3 special access – and now argues that all U.S. Ethernet services should be similarly regulated if they are to perform as well as those in Europe. Further, BTA often asserts that the performance of its Openreach subsidiary supplying special access services in the UK is far superior to U.S. performance.  While BTA’s past claims have been repeatedly refuted by AT&T, its recent Reply Comments introduce a new “study” purchased from European telecom consultancy, WIK. This study argues that Ethernet prices are distinctly higher in the U.S. than in Europe, and that this unhappy state is due a lack of competition and competent regulation in the U.S.  A little detective work shows these claims about Ethernet to be as fanciful an overreach as BTA’s prior claims about DS1 and DS3 services.

WIK’s February 2016 report presents two sets of Ethernet price “data.” The first comes from another consultancy, Ovum, and dates from August 2013. WIK uses these Ovum (2013) data to estimate Ethernet prices for the U.S., the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.  Based on this comparison, BTA and WIK conclude that Ethernet prices are higher in the U.S., and that Ethernet adoption is lagging in the U.S.

When drawing this conclusion, it is unfortunate that BTA and WIK apparently were unaware that on Sept. 28, 2015 Ovum published an update to its 2013 report. Examination of Ovum’s 2015 report reveals major changes in the Ethernet market over the intervening two years.  In 2013, Ovum reported U.S. prices for 1G metro Ethernet to be $31,060 per year.  Just two years later, this price had dropped by 36% and was $19,879.  Declines in U.S. 10G service prices were even greater – dropping by nearly 58% from $61,237 in 2013 to $25,873 in 2015.  But even more telling, Ovum’s 2015 report projects that by the 2018-20 period, U.S. prices for 1G and 10G Ethernet service will be no higher (and sometimes significantly cheaper) than the prices from the four European champions that WIK selects as comparators to the entire U.S.  Further, over the 2015-20 time period, Ovum (2015) projects that U.S. metro Ethernet lines will grow at a compounded annual rate of 16.9%, while the four-country European growth rate will be only 9.2%.  The moral here, if you rely on stale data, expect rotten results.

Read More

Something Amiss in Washington

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 24, 2016 at 9:38 am

By Len Cali, AT&T Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the Digital Economy: Chances and Challenges conference in Prague. The Czech national regulatory authority, Česky telekomunikační úrad (“CTU”), under the leadership of Chairman Jaromir Novak, organized the conference jointly with ICANN.

The gathering offered me an opportunity to share AT&T’s view on innovation and regulation. Even more importantly, it allowed me to learn firsthand what policymakers and industry stakeholders are doing and thinking in eastern Europe. It should be no surprise that in this vibrant and technically sophisticated region of the world, much is underway with respect to smart cities, the transition to next generation networks, and extending broadband to all citizens.

Nonetheless, I was surprised to learn that Croatia has already completed the transition to an all-IP network and shut down its legacy PSTN central offices.  I was also impressed by the cutting edge work being done in Slovenia around innovative fixed wireless broadband technologies and services.  Most encouraging of all, I found many policymakers looking forward, aiming to safeguard consumer interests and address the challenges of the 21st century without looking backward or trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.

Read More