Posted by: Hank Hultquist on August 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Today, we informed the FCC that AT&T is willing to accept up to $100 million from the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase 1 to deploy broadband to approximately 129,000 locations that lack any fixed broadband service of at least 768 kbps/200 kbps. Last year, AT&T declined the CAF support that was available to it, due largely to uncertainty about the company’s overall strategy for rural areas, as well as uncertainty about some of the obligations associated with acceptance of CAF money. In both cases that uncertainty has been resolved such that acceptance of this funding, and the associated obligations, now makes sense for AT&T.
Last summer, AT&T was in the middle of a strategic review regarding, among other things, its rural properties. The outcome of that review was Project VIP, a multibillion dollar investment in wired and wireless broadband. We decided to expand our U-verse and IPDSL footprint, as well as our LTE build. Acceptance of CAF funding will permit a further expansion of the U-verse/IPDSL footprint to additional locations that stand to benefit greatly, as they currently have no fixed broadband service of at least 768 kbps/200 kbps.
To its credit, the FCC also addressed the uncertainties we had identified. In particular, they clarified that: (1) CAF Phase 1 recipients will not be subject to any later-adopted broadband measurement requirements; (2) recipients will be in compliance with the requirement that pricing and usage allowances be “reasonably comparable” to urban areas, if they offer identical plans in such areas; (3) acceptance of funding will not trigger reporting requirements beyond the funded locations; and (4) obligations will end within three years.
Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm
Today, AT&T is filing an analysis by two esteemed economists, Yeon-Koo Che and Philip A. Haile, of T-Mobile’s “Dynamic Market Rule” proposal for the 600 MHz Auction. The proposal entails a complex bidding scheme that is premised on T-Mobile’s claim that low band spectrum should be subject to its own separate cap, above and beyond the spectrum screen that the FCC has relied on for years.
As AT&T has shown, this premise is flawed for two main reasons. First, the purported advantage of low band spectrum – that it allows more coverage and better building penetration with fewer cell sites – has been overtaken by marketplace realities under which capacity not coverage drives network deployment. Carriers deploying low band and high band spectrum alike must squeeze as many cell sites as they can into their networks to meet exploding demand for data services. Second, to the extent this is less the case in rural areas, those areas are not spectrum-constrained and the lower cost of building out low band spectrum in such areas is offset by the higher cost of the spectrum itself.
Given this, any analysis of T-Mobile’s proposal must begin with the proposition that the spectrum caps on which that proposal is built are wholly unnecessary. But this is not the only point that should concern policymakers. Such caps will also suppress auction revenues, potentially to the point of auction failure, ultimately reducing the amount of spectrum freed up for mobile broadband use and undermining the auction’s ability to meet critical statutory goals.
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 6, 2013 at 9:20 am
Authored by Stacey Black, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory
AT&T and Google have filed a joint letter regarding the FCC’s innovative proposal to use the 3550-3650 MHz band as a way to promote major advances in spectrum sharing and small cells deployment, including “micro cells” and “het-nets.” The 3.5 GHz band, which is presently occupied by federal government radar systems, represents a significant and unique opportunity to experiment with spectrum sharing concepts between incumbent government systems and new commercial use.
As we have noted many times, AT&T continues to support clearing and licensing spectrum below 3 GHz for exclusive use, and clearing new bands, particularly those at 1755 to 1780 MHz, must remain a priority for the U.S. Government. At the same time, the 3.5 GHz band, and the FCC’s proposal to utilize it in small cell deployments, provides an interesting opportunity for mobile broadband operators to explore spectrum sharing models. Even on a shared basis, spectrum in this band could be critical to increasing capacity in high demand areas and improving coverage inside buildings or other difficult to cover areas, all without causing interference to incumbent government users. In addition to licensed small cell use, the FCC has also raised interesting questions about whether this spectrum could provide opportunities for unlicensed use of as long as the federal incumbents and licensed small cell users are protected from interference.
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 2, 2013 at 10:15 am
WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama announced yesterday his intent to nominate Michael O’Rielly as Commissioner to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The following statement may be attributed to Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer:
“We are delighted that President Obama announced that he intends to nominate Michael O’Rielly to serve as FCC Commissioner. He will bring extensive public service experience, communications policy expertise and practical know-how to the FCC, invaluable assets that will serve him well at the agency.
“We look forward to working with him once he is confirmed by the Senate.”
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm
Today, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act of 2013. Please attribute the following to Tim McKone, AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations:
“AT&T applauds Senators Wyden and Thune for introducing legislation to permanently extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA). We are pleased to be part of such a broad coalition of companies and consumer groups that are committed to keeping access to the Internet free from discriminatory and unfair taxes. We look forward to working with the Senators and the Congress as this legislation moves forward.”