California PUC completes review of AT&T and Leap/Cricket merger

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on November 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

 The following blog may be attributed to Ken McNeely, AT&T California President.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) completed their extensive review of the merger between AT&T and Leap/Cricket on November 8, 2013, effectuating the transfer of Leap/Cricket California wireless registration to AT&T.  We appreciate the CPUC’s swift and fair consideration of the issues.                                                                 

Leap/Cricket is headquartered in California, and the CPUC’s review sends an important signal to the Federal government that combining the two companies is in the public’s interest, delivers real benefits to consumers, and makes sense in an increasingly competitive marketplace.  

I thank CPUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval for her leadership in reviewing the terms of the transaction, and look forward to bringing Leap/Cricket customers into the AT&T family.  We’re advancing California’s technology and infrastructure every day – helping people to connect in new and amazing ways – and we’re pleased to have taken this important step forward.

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AT&T Lends Support for Veteran Initiative: Warriors4Wireless

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on November 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

The following blog may be attributed to AT&T Vice President of Construction & Engineering, Mo Katibeh:

This morning, I had the honor of attending a meeting at the White House where I had the opportunity to offer my thoughts to senior government leaders as well as top industry executives on a new initiative called Warriors 4 Wireless (W4W).

W4W is a voluntary public-private partnership that helps marry two important national goals – helping military veterans find productive jobs and advancing our country’s drive to deliver advanced wireless service across the U.S.

As we all know broadband is one of the great empowerment tools of our lifetime. Wireless enhances the broadband experience by eliminating the tether of the desktop and adding the “on-the-go” benefit of mobility. In many instances, it’s also a more cost-effective way to reach rural communities. Wireless broadband is such a powerful tool for connecting people to opportunities that the President has set a national goal of delivering 4G service to 98 percent of Americans by 2016. For our part at AT&T, we are driving to meet that target.

As committed as we are to broadband goals, AT&T is also making a big push to hire veterans and their family members. So, taking part in the W4W launch was a natural for us. The idea of combining two national goals under the W4W umbrella makes sense because many veterans already have the right skills as a result of setting up and operating military communications in the field. It’s also a practical way to say “thanks” to the men and women who have put themselves at risk to defend our freedom. And because broadband is so important for our country’s future, it’s a chance for vets to continue serving America while building their own future.

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Critical of CAF in the 10th Circuit

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

Yesterday, more than two years after the FCC adopted transformational reforms of universal service and intercarrier compensation, critics of that order (which include AT&T on a single, discrete intercarrier compensation issue) finally had their day in court. And by all reports it was a long and exhausting day with more than two dozen lawyers arguing a host of issues.

It should not be surprising to anyone in telecom that this order has drawn appeals on so many different issues. This order represents perhaps the most significant step taken to date by the FCC to reform an outdated system of explicit and implicit subsidies to promote universal voice service, and replace it with a system of limited explicit subsidies to promote universal broadband service.

Of all the arguments being made in Denver, the one that is most threatening to the ability of the FCC to do its job leading the historic transition to broadband, IP networks (i.e., the job laid out by Chairman Wheeler yesterday), is the claim by some parties (most prominently C-Spire and US Cellular) that the FCC has no authority to use universal service to promote broadband. This argument, if accepted by the court, threatens the entire project of updating universal service for the broadband era. These parties, in effect, are trying to derail a process that was first outlined in the National Broadband Plan and then set in motion by this order. Early reports indicate that the judges were skeptical of this argument, though one can never put too much weight on what’s said in oral argument.

I don’t think, in the long run, these agents of stasis can succeed. The consensus in the telecom world that universal service should be used to bring broadband to high-cost areas is almost overwhelming. I believe that even if the court were to accept the argument of the agents of stasis, there would be bipartisan support to reverse such a decision through legislation. I hope such legislation does not become necessary.

In case you were interested, these are the parties arguing that the statute flatly prohibits the use of universal service support for broadband.

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AT&T Statement on FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Move to Begin IP Trials

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on November 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is directing the FCC staff to draft an order commencing geographic trials for the transition from aging communication platforms and services to new services based fully on Internet Protocol (“IP”). The following statement may be attributed to AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, Jim Cicconi:

“We congratulate Chairman Wheeler for his leadership and vision. Today’s action is a significant step forward for the industry. But, importantly, as you can see from Chairman Wheeler’s blog, it is also critical for American consumers.

“Our current infrastructure has served us well for almost a century but it no longer meets the needs of America’s consumers. The transition to broadband and IP services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago. Like any change it requires planning. The geographic trials directed by Chairman Wheeler will provide the real world answers needed to ensure a seamless transition. We’re committed to work closely and constructively with the FCC and with all stakeholders to ensure this process succeeds and the goals set forth in the National Broadband Plan are achieved.”

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TOPICS: FCC, IP Transition
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So, Why is there No Rural Email Completion Problem?

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

Just over a week ago, the FCC released an order intended to try and improve the rate at which long distance calls to rural areas are completed. That led to a somewhat cryptic tweet on which I now expand. (In today’s blog “email” is playing the role of Internet traffic in general.)

Have you heard the one about the five policy wonks who couldn’t agree on why there’s no rural email completion problem? The wireless guy challenged the premise of the question by arguing that it would only be an interesting question if the rural call completion problem actually existed. The ILEC guy said that of course there’s a rural email completion problem (that problem being that the ILEC is not getting paid to complete them). The Internet guy said that as long as there’s net neutrality, the end-to-end principle ensures that there can be no rural email completion problem. The right-wing think tank guy said that the free market prevents the emergence of a rural email completion problem. And the public interest guy said that even if there is no rural email completion problem, which he did not concede, the FCC should adopt rules to prohibit it. Ba dump bump!

But seriously folks, why is there no rural email completion problem? You’re probably expecting me to say that it’s because peering is unregulated, or because there’s no intercarrier compensation for email, or because email providers lack market power. And while all of those are true and important, I’d like to focus on a more fundamental distinction between the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the Internet – the fact that there’s no such thing as “local Internet service.”

For a very long time (and to some extent even to this day), the voice world distinguished between “local exchange service” and “long distance service,” largely because they were regulatorily-driven constructs. The domain of the local service provider was required to end at some specific geographic point. It might be the exchange boundary, or maybe the LATA, or maybe even at a tandem switch. In any case, at that point responsibility for the transmission of a call, in either direction, passed from the local exchange carrier to the long distance carrier, or interexchange carrier (IXC). As a consequence of this distinction, long distance carriers became financially responsible for the transport path between rural exchanges and the rest of the PSTN.

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