Unsafe at Any Rate

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on November 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

In recent blogs I have explored: (a) the FCC’s absurd practice of regulating the structure of long distance pricing even as long distance is rapidly vanishing as a distinct consumer service; and (b) the foolishness of extending obsolete interconnection rules to IP networks.

Today, I will try to tie these seemingly distinct modes of transportation together and, in so doing, explain how the FCC can finally put this industry on the road to rationality.

It is axiomatic that interconnection on the telephone network (a.k.a., the PSTN) has become an upside-down world of inefficiencies and arbitrage. This entire system is built on a series of arbitrary rules and assumptions that have long been overtaken by reality.

We have a system that entitles service providers to file tariffs pursuant to which they can unilaterally extract payments from other service providers for “terminating” calls from those other service providers’ customers. To make matters worse, and despite the fact that the functions performed in “terminating” all calls are identical, the applicable rates can vary greatly depending on whether a call is “local,” “intrastate long distance,” or “interstate long distance,” or dialed from a mobile smartphone, skyped from a laptop or placed from the dusty home “landline.”   

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Sustainability, Community and Business

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on November 24, 2010 at 12:53 pm

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

In Europe last week, I met with inspirational people who are making an impact on their communities.

In London, a main issue of concern for those I met with is the high-school dropout rate. Early school leavers (as is the UK term) who are not in employment or training represent 9.2% of 16-18 year olds. This has a direct impact on the readiness of the future workforce.

I had a valuable discussion with a group of people working on different early school leaver initiatives – local community projects such as Urban Synergy, nationwide organizations such as the Prince’s Trust and initiatives with international activities or aspirations such as City Year and Debate Mate. Common success factors emerged:  one-on-one engagement; mentoring and using role models; engaging families through activities with young people rather than in parallel; and focusing on life skills. And common challenges:  scaling up small impactful projects so that they make inroads into the overall problem; generating and measuring meaningful data so that resources are directed to the better initiatives.

There is agreement that business is crucial in improving the early school leaver problem. Introducing young people to the world of work through job shadowing or internships opens up a realm of possibilities. But the belief is that the role of business extends beyond that – a company’s involvement in a project has knock-on benefits:  it draws the involvement and financial attention of stakeholders – industry peers, government, even the company’s supply chain.

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Miracle on Special Access Street

Posted by: Frank Simone on November 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Washington, D.C. telecom circles you no doubt have heard AT&T shout from the roof tops that the marketplace for special access services is very competitive.  But the NoChokePoints coalition has sought to discredit these claims by characterizing them like Kris Kringle’s in the holiday movie favorite Miracle on 34th Street, as the ramblings of an insane old man who should be institutionalized.

So, it was with great interest that I read the other day that one of the leading member companies of this coalition was boasting that they receive these services from fourteen different providers.

“T-Mobile now uses 14 different backhaul providers, including local exchange carriers, Ethernet wireless providers and cable companies. Economics is the main reason T-Mobile is using so many providers…[and] T-Mobile had to work with smaller providers to get the right mix of technology and price.”

Yes, fourteen.  Twelve drummers drumming plus two.  Ten lords a-leaping plus four.

At that moment, I understood Judge Henry X. Harper’s excitement when proof that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus was presented to the Court.  

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The Women of the FCC

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of attending the Alliance for Women in Media event, “Honoring the Women of the FCC:  Past and Present.”  AT&T was the premier sponsor of the program which included a moderated discussion between former and current FCC Commissioners Mimi Dawson, Susan Ness, Deborah Taylor Tate, Gloria Tristani and Meredith Atwell Baker.  And what a discussion it was.  The Commissioners past and present shared their insights and perspectives, commented on issues about which they are passionate and offered an opinion or two.  And, by the way, they all looked marvelous.

The dialogue was free flowing and covered questions about how being a woman shaped the panelists’ views on substantive issue.  While most agreed that it did not have a direct impact on their deliberative processes, it often did aid in their understanding and empathy on issues.  The Commissioners also answered questions related to diversity in the media and challenges faced by female candidates for nominated or elected positions.  

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Shedding Light on a Few Things

Posted by: Bob Quinn on November 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

A little over a year ago, AT&T’s unwieldy privacy policy, which actually numbered 17 different policies, and came in at 37,000-plus words, was shrunk to one policy, at a more svelte 8,000’ish words.

I tell you this because, as some of you know, the duties of chief privacy officer were added to my day job about two months ago.  And our priority is to continue to build upon the success and leadership we have forged under my missed predecessor Dorothy Attwood in giving consumers more control over their personal information.

The first step for living up to a consumer control framework is to be vigilant about telling consumers, in clear language, what information we have about them, how it is being used and shared, and how we protect their information.  To that end, today we are updating our privacy policy with some further clarifications about our practices.

As we did with the initial launch, we will preview the updated policy for 45 days to gather feedback from our customers before it goes into effect.  Based on that feedback, we may further refine the policy.

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TOPICS: Privacy
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