Posted by: Hank Hultquist on April 30, 2010 at 11:35 am
In 1925, a young Californian claimed to have been told by the angel Gabriel that the world would end at midnight on February 13th. A number of people believed this prophecy including a Long Island housepainter named Robert Reidt who assembled a hillside gathering of believers to meet their fate. When midnight came and went uneventfully, Reidt rationalized that the angel must have meant Pacific time, and he exhorted the crowd to wait for three more hours. Three hours later he chalked up the continued non-occurrence of the extraordinary events to the “Satanic flashbulbs” of the reporters who had shown up.
At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering what this strange story could possibly have to do with broadband policy. I had a bit of a déjà vu experience while reading some of the reply comments filed the other day in the open Internet proceeding, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on. Then, while listening to Wednesday’s Open Internet workshop in Seattle, I remembered Reidt and his ridiculous attempts to explain the failure of the apocalyptic prophecy.
In AT&T’s reply comments, we pointed out similar failures on the part of the Internet’s own doomsday prophets, such as Larry Lessig and Tim Wu.
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on April 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm
The recent focus on the privacy policies of social networks reminded me of the changes to our Privacy Policies made last summer.
We launched buzz.com, a new service linked with our popular Yellow Pages local search site. Using buzz.com, users can get and receive recommendations from friends, or the entire buzz.com community, on local services and retailers. For instance, you can search for a local dentist and find the local listings as well as get the unvarnished truth about them from the recommendations of your friends and other buzz.com users.
Obviously, this kind of service doesn’t just depend on the sharing of information — its entire point is the sharing of information. In fact, one of the most exciting prospects of this service is that you could get recommendations from people you actually know (and therefore can decide for yourself if it is good advice!). As a result, we wanted to make sure that our users understood exactly what they were signing up for. So, we took a new and innovative approach.
Posted by: Jim Cicconi on April 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm
Today, like many others, we’ll file our reply comments in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding. While some are suggesting this deadline may be anticlimactic given the DC Circuit’s recent decision, I think it’s important—though perhaps for a different reason than most. Here’s why.
Those who argue the need for significant government regulation always bear a special burden under our laws and Constitution—they have to prove their case. Yet, after six months in the FCC’s comment process, and nearly six years of arguing the issue, proponents of extreme net neutrality regulation have failed utterly when it comes to making their case. To be sure, they’ve used fear masterfully to create the impression of a crisis, and hyperbole to manufacture a threat. But when the time has come to put-up-or-shut-up, those same groups have failed to identify any existing problem they are trying to solve, or indeed any specific conduct the government must act to correct.
Over and over again, we hear them cite the single instance where the FCC felt compelled to take action, namely the Comcast-BitTorrent case. But one (1) example does not a compelling case make. Indeed, thanks to the DC Circuit, the Comcast case ironically now stands for the opposite proposition—namely, that government must have compelling reasons if it’s going to substitute its judgment for that of the free market, and when it acts it must do so only with clear legislative authority.
Posted by: Bob Quinn on April 21, 2010 at 12:33 pm
AT&T has been a big supporter of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. That Plan recognized and highlighted the need for significant reforms in areas like universal service, intercarrrier compensation, a renewed vigor and focus on adoption, and the identification of spectrum to fuel the public’s insatiable demand for wireless broadband. The Plan also recognized that massive private investment – by its own estimate $350 Billion – was necessary to build the broadband networks of tomorrow. At the time the Plan was published, we cautioned that regulatory policies must first and foremost continue to support that investment, lest those policies become an impediment to achieving the goals contained in the Plan. Today, in my opinion, the FCC took a significant step backwards.
In the Plan, the FCC clearly recognized the vital role that spectrum plays in the wireless industry and acknowledged that spectrum is a scarce and valuable resource. Indeed, in the leadup to the Plan, Chairman Genachowski referred more than once to a looming “spectrum crisis.” But today, in one of its first actions following the release of the plan, the Commission has removed a key incentive for a company to invest in, and build out, long-held spectrum licenses in less-populated, rural areas of the country.
Let me back up a bit and explain the concept of roaming in the context of the wireless industry. Roaming is the process by which one wireless carrier avails itself of another carrier’s network when its customer travels out of a specific coverage area but still wants to make wireless calls. All wireless providers, including AT&T, roam on other carriers networks. For the past 20 years, roaming arrangements have been worked out between carriers on a business-to-business basis.
In 2007, the FCC decided that there should be an “automatic roaming” provision to allow any carrier to have the right to roam on another carrier’s network, and that the failure to allow for roaming under reasonable terms and conditions would be considered a violation of the Communications Act. Go forth and roam if you want to.
Posted by: Jim Cicconi on April 19, 2010 at 11:08 am
The audience sitting in front of Neelie Kroes at ARCEP’s conference on net neutrality last week was largely European Internet and telecom executives and their regulators, but perhaps the more appropriate audience is located some 4000 miles to the west. Drawing on her deep experience as former EU Commissioner for Competition, the current Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Kroes delivered a thoughtful and analytical speech that recognizes the critical importance of following a cautious, balanced and flexible policy framework for the Internet.
In her speech, Commissioner Kroes opens by endorsing fully the four policy principles that have guided the FCC’s treatment of the Internet for the last five years, and she adds her hearty endorsement for the FCC’s recently-proposed transparency principle. But Commissioner Kroes then takes direct aim at the restrictive nondiscrimination principle that the FCC is proposing now to apply to broadband service. In her words,
“some are interpreting [this] non-discrimination principle as essentially preventing telecom operators from seeking commercial payments or agreements with content providers which deliver their highly capacity-consuming services through broadband networks and require a certain level of service for their transmission to be effective. That prospect raises a number of delicate and complex issues. These issues must be very carefully assessed before the EU gives any possible regulatory response.”