Happy Birthday NBP

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on March 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

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. 

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Putting Control in
The Hands of Consumers

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.

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AT&T’s Cicconi on Net Neutrality
Before Congressional Hearing

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today held a hearing on H.J. Res 37, disapproving of the FCC’s net neutrality order, which the Commission adopted in December.  Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, delivered the following statement:

Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Eshoo, Chairman Upton, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Barton, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today on behalf of my company, AT&T.  I recognize it is unusual to be asked to testify on a resolution on which we’ve not taken a position.  However, as I’m sure all of you know, we have been involved for years in the issue that underlies H.J. Res. 37, and that is the protracted dispute over net neutrality regulation by the FCC.

Let me first stress that AT&T has long supported the “broadband principles” laid out by the FCC six years ago.  We support an open Internet, and have promised to abide by that concept.  But like many issues that start from a shared belief, this one quickly devolved into a long and contentious debate over specifics:  whether the FCC should be able to enforce the broadband principles; whether a broad set of rules was needed; what legal authority the FCC has to put any such rules in place.  And all of this despite any real evidence of a problem.

As in most regulatory debates, this one has not lacked for radical voices.  Many sought heavy-handed government regulation and control of free markets… some for commercial advantage, others to advance their own ideology.   Since this debate began back in 2005, AT&T has consistently opposed any FCC regulation of Internet services or facilities.  This is still our strong preference today.  We feel the antitrust laws, the Federal Trade Act, and the discipline of highly competitive markets are more than adequate to police any potential abuses. 

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Mobile Coupons? What a Grand Idea

Posted by: Sherry Ramsey on March 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

How many times have you clipped the coupon for a three-pack of paper towels…and left it on the kitchen table as you head to the store? How many times have you decided just how you’re going to spend that $10 bonus card from a department store…and dug through your purse or wallet unsuccessfully when you stepped up to the check-out counter with that snazzy new sweater?

Well, if you’re like me, it happens a lot.  Which is why I, personally, was so excited earlier this week when we launched a handy new service called ShopAlerts.

Basically, this is how it works:  Consumers can request to receive coupons and other offers via their mobile phone when they’re near a participating store or branded product.  When you walk into a store, they’re right there, ready to be redeemed on your mobile phone.  ShopAlerts combines the magic of geo-location services to bring together shoppers’ desires and marketers’ latest offerings.  It’s pretty neat.

Not only am I excited about the shopping aspects of the service (I do enjoy indulging in a little retail therapy now and then), but I’m also proud of the privacy measures we have put in place to protect customers who sign up for this service.  

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AT&T Welcomes Levin
Proposal for Lifeline Program

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer:

“You cannot accomplish the goal of universal broadband at the heart of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan without a robust Lifeline program to provide a safety net for those in need.  In a speech today, Blair Levin, one of the NBP’s primary authors, proposed remaking the voice-only USF Lifeline/Link-up programs into a broadband adoption program.  The proposal is worthy of a serious discussion and would fundamentally reshape how qualification is determined, add in a dimension of accountability and the manner in which the program is paid for and administered.  AT&T shares Mr. Levin’s belief in the importance of broadband adoption and the potential for a reformed Lifeline program to become part of the solution. We welcome the proposal and, more importantly, the discussion that this proposal should generate.”

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