Panel Debates Universal
Service for Broadband

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

By Joel Lubin, AT&T Vice President of Public Policy

Last Wednesday, the Congressional Internet Caucus sponsored a panel discussion on the key hurdle to bringing broadband to all Americans – universal service and intercarrier compensation reform.  If you weren’t able to make the Congressional event you missed a riveting discussion (and no, we’re not being facetious).

In a packed room at the Capitol, some of the key players in the debate gathered to discuss the FCC’s proposals to bring the telephone subsidy programs into the broadband era. For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the highlights of the hour and a half debate…..

John Jones of Century Link kicks off the discussion highlighting where the sparks really fly in this debate:

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The Grand Slam of Wrong

Posted by: Bob Quinn on February 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

So, yesterday afternoon, Level 3 filed a three-page, single spaced letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski explaining to him that he didn’t really mean that the Comcast/Level 3 dispute is not covered by the FCC’s recently announced net neutrality rules and the press got it wrong.

To do that, Level 3 set forth, in quotes, its version of the exchange between Congresswoman Blackburn and Chairman Genachowski and then dissected each word to conclude that the Chairman had left himself enough wiggle room for people to understand that this was not a peering  dispute (wrong); that the Commission does not have the facts before it that would allow the agency to determine that this is a peering relationship (wrong again – what was in the 15 filings – yes, 15 separate filings – on this issue that Level 3 has made at the FCC if not “facts”?); that Level 3 is not asking for regulatory intervention into other services beyond the rules’ limited scope of consumer and small business broadband Internet access service (wrong a third time – Level 3 is not seeking broadband Internet access from Comcast and neither Comcast nor Level 3 is a consumer or small business); and that Level 3 is not asking for price regulation (the grand slam of wrong – Comcast wants to charge $X and Level 3 wants to pay $0.  It’s all about the rate).

Despite Level 3’s strenuous efforts to spin Chairman Genachowski’s comments, his answer to Congresswoman Blackburn’s question should have made it clear to everyone that the FCC does not plan to insert itself into what the Chairman correctly described as “a commercial dispute” between companies like Level 3 and Comcast.  

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Putting Broadband on the Map

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

By Jeff Brueggeman, AT&T Vice President of Public Policy

Last week, the FCC officially launched the secret weapon in getting us to 100% broadband, its Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) reform effort.

Coincidently, this week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released (on time and on budget) its National Broadband Map.  The map shows us the geographic areas where wireline and wireless broadband services are available, at the census block level, zooming in to get a fairly detailed look at where broadband exists and where it doesn’t.  Additionally, the NTIA map will be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding Census Block.

The bottom line is that NTIA is producing the most detailed map of broadband coverage the country has ever had.

Harold Feld over at Public Knowledge has summarized the who, what, when, where and how of the National Broadband Map, so I won’t cover the details of how we got here.  Harold also offers some opinions and predictions about how the map will be criticized in some quarters, but ultimately he concludes that the map will be useful.   

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Changing Regulation
For the 21st Century

Posted by: Bob Quinn on February 16, 2011 at 7:43 am

I was watching Almost Famous last week with my fifteen-year-old son, Matt.  In one of the scenes, William Mitchell (the Cameron Crowe character) is furiously typing up his story for Rolling Stone magazine on an electric typewriter in his bedroom.  Matt watched for a moment, turned to me and said, “What is THAT.”  I laughed and explained to him the amusing story of life before personal computers.

It reminded me about all of the changes that technology has wrought and how my perspective of technology is different than my parents but also different than my kids’ perspectives.  It is unfortunate that the same cannot be said for our regulatory system in the United States.

Where each successive generation of technology yields to its replacement, some approaches to regulation fail to yield to new realities and attempt to stop the clock sometime back in 1984, refusing to acknowledge that anything has changed since the breakup of the Bell System.  This dichotomy was really brought home to me over the last couple of weeks. 

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Moving Beyond the Rhetoric

Posted by: Joan Marsh on February 15, 2011 at 10:44 am

After seeing NAB’s latest salvo in the spectrum debate in the Feb. 7 issue of Communications Daily, I have to admit that I agree with NAB on one point:  it’s time to move beyond the rhetoric.  Let’s dissect NAB’s most recent retort.

First, NAB claims that the “spectrum crisis” rhetoric is overheated.  There’s certainly been a lot of (wasted) debate about the phrase “spectrum crisis.”  Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you call it:  you can call it a crisis; you can call it a crunch; you can call it a duck.  What matters is what it means for U.S. wireless leadership and the availability of wireless data services by U.S. consumers.

There is no longer any serious debate that mobile data traffic growth continues to explode.  Let’s turn again to the recent Cisco forecast.  By 2015, global mobile data traffic is forecasted to reach an annual run rate of 75 exabytes.  That’s the equivalent of 19 billion DVDs, or about 75 times the amount of global IP traffic (mobile and fixed together) generated in 2000.

No matter what label is used, these types of growth trends will lead to only one result:  wireless network capacity exhaust (a topic appropriate for a separate blog).  So, we can continue to mindlessly debate whether there’s really a spectrum “crisis,” or we can get on with discussing how this country is going to manage forecasted wireless data demands while maintaining leadership in the global wireless revolution.

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