The 20th Anniversary of the ADA

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on July 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

By Susan Mazrui, AT&T Director of Public Policy

On Monday, I had the privilege to participate in events led by the White House, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce, highlighting the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the role that technology has played in providing a level playing field for people with disabilities.  As always, Kareem Dale’s remarks were on target but it was his personal experience that speaks most strongly to the fact that, with access to technology, people with disabilities need know no limits.

More than twenty years ago, I first heard about a new bill being circulated that would address the civil rights of people with disabilities. I was writing the final research paper for my master’s degree on a computer with one of the first screen readers ever commercially offered. As a blind person, it was the first time I could edit what I wrote. This was a huge advancement.

Today, thanks to the commitment made to access and to innovation by individuals like Bonnie O’Day, Karen Strauss and Jim Fruchterman, and companies like AT&T, Apple and Research in Motion, I have more power in my little cell phone, even better access to information and more ways to communicate.  I can choose from hundreds of thousands of books without having to ask someone to record it for me. I can access government sites and learn about important activities in the community. I can text my daughter who lives across the country from me – who even thought of texting then?  I still can’t get her to listen to my voicemail messages before calling back but that is a generational issue, not an access one. 

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It’s Not Just About Price

Posted by: Carl Povelites on July 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

In the FCC’s 14th Annual Wireless Competition Report, the Commission identifies three broad categories of non-price rivalry among wireless providers, including, (1) network upgrades; (2) product information and perception; and (3) downstream product differentiation.   With the launch of a new smartphone almost every month – the new Bold, the new iPhone, the Incredible – the FCC is being schooled in non-price rivalry on a regular basis.

Let’s briefly look at each of the three broad categories identified by the FCC.  First, network upgrades, a very broad category that includes everything to do with the network – technology deployed, coverage, speed of transferring data, etc.  A person would have to be hard pressed not to believe that there is intense competition (yes, I will say it, effective competition) in this area, where entire marketing campaigns are designed to one-up the competition.  The FCC’s report does a decent job in highlighting not only the major carriers’ investments in technology and coverage, but also that of smaller providers and new entrants, such as Leap and Clearwire.

Typical of this report though, while noting positive data, such as the fact that 99.6% of the population has mobile data coverage, 98.1% of the population has mobile broadband coverage or that 95.9% of the population is served by three or more providers, the report looks hard to point out a negative.  Instead of admitting that only 4.1% of Americans lack access to three or more providers, the FCC instead explains that 30% of rural Americans lack 3 or more choices – purposely twisting a good news story into one that sounds worse than it is. 

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An Unreasonable Conclusion

Posted by: Bob Quinn on July 20, 2010 at 4:21 pm

The FCC’s conclusion that broadband is not being reasonably deployed in the U.S., on a national basis, based upon 7 million homes in rural America that would require $23.5 billion in federal subsidies to connect to wireline broadband, is an unreasonable conclusion.  Here is why.

As a part of its National Broadband Plan, the FCC identified 7 million homes without access to wireline broadband service capable of 4 Mbps.  Some of those areas have broadband at lower speeds; all have access to satellite-based broadband. The agency concluded “it is unlikely that private capital will fund infrastructure capable of delivering broadband that meets the [4 Mbps] target” because of the exorbitant cost of reaching those homes. As we heard again last week, some of those areas today receive thousands of dollars annually per line to support the provision of voice service.

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Don’t Try This in Your (Broadband) Home

Posted by: Bob Quinn on July 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Since the FCC released its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the regulatory classification of broadband Internet access services, we’ve spent some time explaining why Title II is a bad idea for achieving the goals of the National Broadband Plan – the investment, innovation, and market certainty needed for job creation.

Today, our filing at the FCC packages up all that is wrong with the Commission’s approach, including how the plan would scuttle the Administration’s ambitious broadband deployment and adoption agenda, and chill multi-billion dollar private sector investment and job creation.  We also debunk the notion that this is the only way to accomplish the FCC’s National Broadband Plan core objectives, and we highlight the plethora of legal problems and uncertainties that would sweep through the Internet ecosystem.

Is it all to achieve the political aims of some extreme pseudo “consumer” groups whose rhetoric gets more over-the-top every day if the FCC doesn’t do exactly what they want? Have you seen the Wanted Posters of FCC Chairman Genachowski?

The FCC’s Third Way, Title II proposal is truly like hunting flies in your home with a sledge-hammer.  When it is all said and done, some of the walls, ceilings and floors will be gone but the flies will still be there.  Let’s just take a few examples to show you what we mean. 

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Can I Supersize My Minutes?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am

Authored by Kimberly Darrin, AT&T Director of Public Policy

I grew up in the ‘80s asking, “Where’s the beef?”.  It’s probably not much of a surprise then that fast food is top on my list when I stop to consider what other industries have been as creative in appealing to the needs and wants of the American consumer as the wireless industry.  Bringing consumers value for their dollar is the name of the game when companies are allowed to compete.

In evaluating whether effective competition exists in the wireless industry for its 14th Annual Report, the FCC looked in part to price rivalry.  Wireless carriers compete on many levels to attract and retain satisfied customers, but appealing to consumers’ pocketbooks is one of the more tangible and surefire ways to ensure success.  Case in point: the dollar menu.

Back in 1998, AT&T revolutionized wireless pricing plans by introducing the Digital One Rate (DOR), which offered consumers national calling plans with no roaming charges and no separate long distance fees.  When you come up with a good idea, your competitors follow.  Offer customers the option to “supersize” their meal and don’t be surprised when you see a competitor offer a “biggie” or better yet, a “great biggie.”

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