Yesterday, AT&T’s Jim Cicconi talked about federal spectrum policies while on a panel at the Brookings Institution here in Washington, D.C. Although there was a question or two (ok, maybe a few more) about our recent announcement, panelists spent a good amount of time discussing the need for incentive auctions.
If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you know that we’ve been talking for a while now about the critical need for sensible spectrum reform, and how broadcasters should become a part of the solution.
In case you weren’t able to attend yesterday’s event, below is a clip of Jim on why it doesn’t make economic sense to allow broadcasters to continue to sit on such valuable spectrum (which they got for free, btw). He also asks, if broadcasters really need all this spectrum for over-the-air broadcasting, why do they also need must carry – government rules that require competing video providers to carry broadcasters’ signals?
Oh, and be sure to stick around after listening to Jim. Blair Levin has some interesting remarks on this subject as well…
So, we’ve made some news this weekend. In case you missed it, we announced on Sunday we have agreed to acquire T-Mobile USA from German-owned Deutsche Telekom.
The deal will undergo a thorough review by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. We understand that Congress, the DOJ, the FCC, as well as wireless consumers will have questions about the transaction. We look forward to answering and addressing those questions.
We are confident that the facts will demonstrate that the deal is in the public interest (FCC focus) and that competition (DOJ focus) will continue to flourish. For example, a large majority of Americans today can choose from at least five wireless providers offering nationwide service. Also, the transaction will allow us to expand the next generation of mobile broadband to 95% of the U.S. population – up from 80% as previously planned – covering an additional 46.5 million Americans, a key objective of the Administration.
For further information on the transaction, and to stay informed of the latest news and information as the process moves forward, please visit www.MobilizeEverything.com.
On Wednesday, Chairman Genachowski outlined his goals for spectrum reform to deliver on the promise and potential of this country’s mobile broadband future. In response, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) issued two separate statements promising (again) that broadcasters will work with policymakers to address our country’s spectrum challenges, but then demonstrating that NAB is not yet interested in real cooperation.
First, NAB attempted to sell the notion that their 1950’s-era broadcast transmission model is somehow a superior technology – as if nothing better has happened technologically in the last 50 years. Then, they seem to argue that consumers really prefer their model, despite overwhelming evidence that U.S. consumers are embracing, indeed demanding, the “any content, anywhere” promise of mobile broadband. Any American even remotely aware of what’s going on knows this. Simply put, consumers no longer want the old, centrally-controlled content delivery model the broadcasters offer. Only 10% of households now depend on over-the-air television, and that number is dropping like a stone.
As if striving for a trifecta of incongruity, NAB then insinuated the problem isn’t their own massive warehousing and underuse of precious spectrum resources. Instead, the problem is everyone else. It’s not their 1950’s transmission method that’s inefficient; the fault is with modern devices that receive their signals. And somehow those companies making the largest capital investments in the U.S., and perhaps the largest private capital investments in American history, aren’t investing fast enough to suit the broadcasters.
As we gear up for tomorrow’s event at Georgetown University marking the one-year anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, I guess the inevitable question is, are we there yet? Well, not exactly. But after a somewhat slow start, the FCC has really picked up the pace in the last few months on one of the Plan’s lynchpin proceedings – reform of the Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation. In February, the FCC released a nearly 300-page NPRM. And just this week, the Chairman and his fellow Commissioners jointly blogged about their plans to complete this proceeding by the end of the summer. As someone who’s been working on these issues for over a decade, all I have to say is “wow.”
Reform of these policies is the most significant thing the FCC can do to promote the objectives of the National Broadband Plan. This is the point where people usually say something like, “these policies have done an excellent job of bringing about universal telephone service, but it’s now time to retool them for universal broadband.” I’m not going to say that. In my opinion, the high-cost universal service program has been a mess since its inception. And the intercarrier compensation “system,” has become a Rube Goldbergesque contraption optimized for little more than arbitrage and the generation of legal fees.
The principal failings of both USF and intercarrier compensation arises from the fact that they were grafted onto a system of public utility regulation that was originally built around local telephone monopolies. While USF and intercarrier compensation were both extended to certain competitive carriers, those extensions proved unstable and unsustainable. Competitive USF subsidies were ultimately capped to prevent runaway growth, and competitive carrier access charges had to be subjected to a form of dominant carrier regulation.
Posted by: Joan Marsh on March 14, 2011 at 9:31 am
Amidst all the net neutrality activity in Washington last week, you may not have heard about a great program Consumer Action launched on Wednesday called WirelessEd. The program is designed to help consumers better understand and manage their wireless devices and services. AT&T is a proud supporter of this program and we were pleased to be part of the launch event in San Francisco.
WirelessEd is a carrier-neutral, multilingual program that consists of educational brochures and training sessions to help community organizations educate their members. The training sessions – the first of which will be held in Atlanta, Houston and San Francisco beginning in June – are expected to impact more than 200,000 consumers.
Be sure to check out WirelessEd.org, where you can access educational materials, interactive tools to calculate and track data usage, and other resources.
WirelessEd is just the latest effort AT&T has made to empower consumers with the tools they need to better control their wireless products and services. You might remember that last fall we launched the AT&T Smart Controls website, and we think WirelessEd is a great compliment to that effort.