Comcast and the Throes of Addiction

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on October 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

It’s time to chalk up another victim to the addictive qualities of access charges.  

For more than a decade, cable companies have fought vigorously to avoid entanglement of their broadband IP networks with common carrier regulation.  Now, for less than a penny a minute, Comcast seems ready to say “the heck with all that.”  

In recent weeks, Comcast has proposed certain changes to the FCC’s rules that govern competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) access charges.  In particular, Comcast has asked the FCC to eliminate a rule that prohibits CLECs from charging for functions that they don’t actually perform.  No, that’s not a typo.  Comcast wants the FCC to allow CLECs (and this includes Comcast’s own CLEC affiliates) to charge for access services whether they provide them or not. This request is surpassingly ironic in that VoIP providers have spent much of the last 10 years insisting that they should never have to pay access charges.  Today, we filed a letter with the Commission explaining why Comcast’s proposal is not only unlawful but also unwise.

In a nutshell, Comcast wants the FCC to make a rule saying that as long as a CLEC provides the telephone number listed in the number portability database, that CLEC should be able to charge the same amount as an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) that terminates a call to an end user over its plain old telephone service (POTS) network. The implication of this proposal is that as long as a CLEC provides the telephone number, it’s safe to conclude that the CLEC provides a service equivalent to all of the other functions – and the associated costs – included in access charges. Nothing could be further from the truth.  And, here’s why.

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Special Access Street
Is Busy These Days

Posted by: Frank Simone on October 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

AT&T and others have been arguing for some time now that the marketplace for special access services, Special Access Street as I refer to it, is highly competitive and that data collected from all participants in the industry, not just the incumbent LECs, will demonstrate this fact.  To its credit the FCC initiated just such a data request in October 2010.

What has the data request revealed? Well, we learned just last week that this effort at collecting comprehensive data to date has fallen far short of the Commission’s expectations.  Indeed, the Commission indicated in an October 6, 2011 filing with DC Circuit Court that the lack of data from the very parties that are asking for regulatory intervention has “impeded” its investigation.  In fact, the Commission noted that “fewer than 10 percent” of COMPTEL’s service provider members submitted data requested by the FCC.

Despite this apparent hiccup on the regulatory side of Special Access Street the business side of Special Access Street remains bustling with activity. This activity is an indication that things have become even more competitive than even I have been suggesting.  Last November I wrote about the Miracle on Special Access Street; how a national wireless carrier employed 14 different backhaul providers, including local exchange carriers, Ethernet providers and cable companies, and how that fact stood in stark contrast to the “there’s no competition” picture of the marketplace for these services painted by the NoChokePoints coalition and its member companies.

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TOPICS: FCC, Special Access
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Sharing Responsibility for Cybersecurity

Posted by: Chris Boyer on October 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

In October, when most people are thinking of pumpkins and changing leaves, we’re thinking of cybersecurity and we’re not alone.  Joining with other members of the industry, government and non-profit organizations, we’re celebrating National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Earlier today, I participated in the official kickoff event for the month, the 2011 Michigan Cyber Summit, which AT&T sponsored.  The event was hosted by Governor Rick Snyder and included speakers such as Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, and Congressmen John Dingell, Mike Rogers, and Hansen Clarke. 

The theme for this year, which was echoed throughout the event, is “shared responsibility” – everyone can play a role in helping our cyberspace stay secure.  We agree and that’s why we not only work hard to keep our networks safe, but we make sure consumers have the information and tools they need as well to help themselves stay safe online.

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AT&T on Universal Service,
Intercarrier Compensation Reform

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

You may attribute the following statement to AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory & Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn: 

“For far too long, the FCC has wrestled with updating the universal service and intercarrier compensation rules for the broadband era.  Absent reform, these rules will simply loiter on to foster more litigation and arbitrage, and ultimately stifle innovation and the benefits of broadband for consumers. 

“Clearly, now is the time to finally bring these reforms to fruition.  FCC Chairman Genachowski deserves credit for bringing this important issue to this point.  We and many others are committed to working with him and the entire Commission, as it works to bring this opportunity for a fair, reasonable plan across the finish line.”

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AT&T Response to Hesse Remarks
On T-Mobile Merger, DoJ Lawsuit

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on September 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs:

“The CEO of Sprint said the Department of Justice should block AT&T from merging with T-Mobile, but would have good reasons to instead allow Sprint to purchase them.  For months Sprint has spoken disingenuously about their motives for opposing AT&T’s merger with T-Mobile.  Now, Mr. Hesse’s public musings have made their motives much more clear.  That they would act in their own economic interest is not surprising.  That they would expect the United States Government to be a willing partner certainly is.”

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