AT&T Statement On
Broadband for America Poll

Posted by: Michael Balmoris on September 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Today, Broadband for America released a survey that found that more than 75 percent of respondents agree that the Internet is currently working, and more than 55 percent oppose federal government regulation of the Internet. The following statement may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs:

“This poll demonstrates once again what most everyone involved with the net neutrality issue already knows—that despite the fear-mongering of a few fringe groups, the American people overwhelmingly reject the idea of government regulation in the Internet space.  Tellingly, even the few who do want more government oversight are worried about very different things—identity theft, pornography, spam and malware.   The rest, by huge margins, feel the Internet is working well and reject government involvement.

“We should keep this hard data in mind when we see the increasingly juvenile tactics of Free Press and others.  Waffles and intimidation are hardly the ingredients of intelligent debate.  But with public opinion so clearly stacked against them, I suppose one understands why groups like Free Press prefer regulatory fiat to the idea of Congress addressing the net neutrality issue.  They know that, if put to the test—a true test of public sentiment through the peoples’ elected representatives—their agenda will be rejected overwhelmingly.”

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Giving Consumers
Control with AdChoices

Posted by: Bob Quinn on September 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I usually write about issues concerning the reclassification of broadband and comic strips. Well, now you can throw privacy issues into the mix since I recently took on the role of AT&T’s Chief Privacy Officer.  Dorothy Attwood is moving on to a new challenge and has left some big shoes to fill. I’m looking forward to the challenge of continuing the great work she has done in this area. Protecting consumers’ privacy is a top priority for AT&T and I am personally committed to building on the company’s leadership in this area.

As I kick off my new gig, I thought I’d highlight a new (and pretty cool) initiative we recently launched that helps to not only educate consumers about how their online data is gathered but also how they can better control its use.

As the Internet is constantly evolving, so too are the tools we use to protect consumers’ privacy online.  Last week, AT&T became one of the first major advertisers to put the new symbol indicating interest-based advertising on its ads.  The symbol, the “power i,” is part of the AdChoices tool and was developed in response to calls for greater transparency regarding interest-based advertising.

The goal is that, one day, all interest-based online ads will be labeled with the same “power i” in order to give consumers a consistent way to recognize interest-based ads.  Clicking on the symbol will give consumers the opportunity to learn more about how companies gather and use their browsing information for targeted online advertising purposes and how consumers can opt-out of allowing such use.

The AdChoices tool offers increased consumer control, more transparency and the ability to better customize the Web experience.  We’re proud to be an industry leader and early adopter of this exciting technology.

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Getting More for Less in the
Wireless Marketplace, Says GAO

Posted by: Joan Marsh on September 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

The GAO recently released a report on competition in the wireless industry.  The report was overwhelmingly a good news story for American consumers.  First, and most importantly, the report contained a wealth of data confirming that the wireless marketplace is effectively competitive.  For example, it found that there are more than 140 facilities-based companies offering wireless services, with four national carriers, many “small and regional carriers of various sizes,” and at least 60 MVNOs, including Tracfone.

The report also found that usage of wireless services is exploding, both in voice (from 250 minutes per month in 2000 to 750 minutes per month in 2007) and in data.  And yet the average overall price for wireless services has steadily declined over the past decade, with the report finding that average prices declined by 50%.  So, consumers in the U.S. are generally getting more wireless services for lower costs.

Despite all this good news, some cited the report as evidence that dark clouds are gathering, particularly in the area of consolidation.  But let’s be clear – consolidation simply means that carriers have increased their geographic scope and thus increased their scale economies and efficiencies.  And while this undoubtedly has placed additional competitive pressures on all carriers, competition benefits consumers and drives the very price decreases that the report found laudable.  Let’s also not forget that each and every one of these deals was found by the FCC, after a rigorous review, to be in the public interest.

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Our Commitment to the Open Internet

Posted by: Margaret Boles on September 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

It’s been five years since the term net neutrality entered the lexicon of beltway banter. Five long years of discussion, debate and disagreement, and guess what?  We are surprisingly where we began – squabbling over an issue that means different things to different people. The only constant is that, like most things in Washington, net neutrality has been based on winners and losers – as if there is some sort of mythical scorekeeper keeping tally.

Let’s be clear. The real winners should be American consumers. However, what real consumers want has often taken a back seat to the political rancor. That’s why we decided to personally reiterate to consumers our long-standing commitment to them and a set of standards geared towards addressing their needs. 

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Who Keeps Pulling
The Net Neutrality Football?

Posted by: Bob Quinn on September 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

As the dog days of Summer 2010 wind down and we begin the inexorable march towards Halloween, the Great Pumpkin and beyond, I have been thinking about the interesting places the net neutrality debate took us this summer.

We began the summer with FCC Chairman Genachowski proposing the Third Way to, in his words, “restore the broadly supported status quo consensus that existed prior to [the Comcast/BitTorrent decision].”

We endured the hand wringing by so-called public interest groups over the Chairman’s efforts to forge a compromise solution to this endless debate, the hyperventilating over the Google/Verizon proposal on net neutrality, and the disapproval of the Chairman’s desire to seek more information before making any critical decisions.

Now, Labor Day has come and gone and finally the hazy smoke of the DC Summer sun has cleared to reveal the three “must haves” those groups feel they must have to preserve their version of an open Internet:

  1. Some form of prior ban on paid prioritization services over Broadband Internet Access service;
  2. FCC authority designed to ensure the “robustness” of broadband Internet Access service in perpetuity;  and
  3. Identical net restrictions for wireline and wireless services.

The real eye opener to me though was how far this debate has wandered from the status quo that Chairman Genachowski described at the beginning of Summer (being praised for his efforts by these same folks).  And, in fact, it is still being praised.

Indeed when you examine these three new “must haves” from the NetRoots crowd, you realize that even full-blown monopoly-style Title II regulation would not give the FCC the authority to do what these folks now seem to think is essential.  And I begin to wonder whether Chairman Genachowski is starting to feel a little like Charlie Brown as NetRoots Lucy keeps pulling the football away from him just as he is about to kick it.

Now, if we look more closely at these three “must haves”, you’ll see what I mean (and once again I’m going to apologize in advance for my detour into arcane telecom jargon).

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