Knowledge is Power

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

At AT&T, we believe control of wireless products and services should be in the hands of our customers.  We believe that customers should understand what fees they will incur when they use their devices.  And we believe we need to provide our customers with the tools they need to understand their usage and manage their monthly bill.

Last month, Chairman Genachowski announced the FCC’s Consumer Empowerment Agenda – a campaign to ensure that all Americans have the tools they need to take advantage of new technologies.  As the Chairman recognized, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a consumer of communications technologies.  But every new gadget and gizmo brings with it new complexities and challenges, and consumers can become confused and overwhelmed.

So today, we’re introducing the new AT&T Smart Controls Website – a one-stop online destination dedicated to providing AT&T customers with safety and control tools and resources.  We can truly say that the inspiration for this easy-to-use site came from our customers.  Their input has resulted in an online location that helps them to use and manage their technology choices in a safe and effective way.

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Price Regulation in the
Buggy Whip Market

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

Throughout the course of this year’s debate over net neutrality and Title II classification, one thing the FCC consistently disavowed was retail price regulation of broadband. Indeed, price regulation should be the last thing a modern regulator would want to be associated with. It is rightly seen in most respectable regulatory establishments as a throwback to monopoly-era bureaucracy.

That is why the FCC’s continued price regulation of the buggy whip, I mean consumer long distance market, is exceedingly…interesting.  Remember long distance? Well, to give you an idea of how “yesterday” long distance service has become, here are a few TV spots from the days of yore, when you couldn’t get past an episode of Seinfeld without seeing a few ads for long distance service.

And, despite the fact that the retail consumer long distance market has all but disappeared as a market distinct from the overall voice services market, the FCC still regulates the price structure for “long distance” with a heavy hand.

To further explain, I will take a brief detour into the world of intercarrier compensation….Basically, the FCC’s rules prohibit carriers from charging higher prices to the consumer for “long distance” calls, even though in some areas they incur significantly higher access charges from the local phone companies that “originate” or “terminate” those calls. Under both the FCC’s rules and the telecom act, retail long distance prices must be averaged. Indeed, the purpose of this price regulation is to prevent carriers from pricing their services in order to reflect more precisely the cost of doing business.

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The Mobile Broadband Tsunami

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

Although I don’t normally like to advertise for our competitors, I can’t help but draw attention to GigaOm’s recent mobile broadband buying guide, which does a great job of highlighting the robust competition in the mobile broadband space.  The guide seeks to navigate the vast array of choices available to consumers and notes that, with the competing 4G networks now available and more emerging in 2011, a veritable mobile broadband tsunami has arrived.

One of the most interesting aspects of GigaOm’s guide is the role new, niche and smaller carriers play in the ever-changing competitive marketplace.  GigaOm highlights some changes that took place in just the last six months:

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When Apps Attack

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Anyone who believes that FCC-mandated net neutrality could or should be applied to wireless networks ought to read Mike Dano’s recent article at FierceWireless.  Dano’s focus is an FCC filing earlier this year by T-Mobile which described in detail the damage caused by a poorly designed instant messaging app that pinged the network with substantial frequency creating signaling problems:

“These signaling problems not only caused network overload problems that affected all [local] broadband users; it also ended up forcing [a reengineering of the radio architecture] to address this never-before-seen signaling issue.”

According to the filing, this one application caused an increase in data use of as much as 1,200 percent on a single device.

To be clear, I am not casting stones.  We have been on the frontlines of the mobile broadband data and app revolution, working and investing furiously to keep pace with the exploding demand for wireless data services.  But this experience shows once again how the advocated “all apps are created equal” regulatory straightjacket, which doesn’t even make sense for the wired web, is spectacularly ill-suited for wireless networks.

Even pro-Net neutrality advocate Robert Cringley has acknowledged that a handful of Slingbox streams are enough to overtake the capacity of a cell tower.   

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STEM – A New Swear Word
Or Key to Economic Renewal?

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

By Charlene Lake, AT&T SVP, Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer

Here is one four letter word we want kids to embrace: STEM. At a time of great difficulty for our public education system, a diverse set of stakeholders including the government, educators, companies and nonprofits can agree that STEM —science, technology, engineering and math – is key to improving the country’s global competitiveness.

A new report by the President’s Council of Advisers in Science and Technology finds that the U.S. has extraordinary STEM assets that could be leveraged to revitalize student interest and increase proficiency in these subjects and, ultimately, promote jobs and economic renewal. Now if we can just use this information to get kids to jump on the bandwagon with us.

One of the best ways to motivate kids to take interest in STEM subjects is through hands-on activities. We’re not shying away from the opportunity. AT&T is particularly proud to be sponsoring the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Taking place this weekend, the festival aims to expose children and families to new technologies that are strengthening communities, building the careers of tomorrow, and stimulating economic growth. The effort is also supported by a Department of Energy grant designed to promote sustainability as an overarching theme of the festival.

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