Authored By Xavier Williams, AT&T Senior Vice President of Government, Education & Medical (GEM) Markets
I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to support an array of public sector clients over the past few years including federal agencies, state and local governments, colleges, and state and local school districts. From this vantage point I am very proud to see firsthand how AT&T is addressing two of our country’s most important national challenges: creating jobs and helping to connect every American to broadband-based Internet service. That is the feeling I came away with after participating earlier today with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in an economic forum sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and recently reviewing the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan.
When I couple these activities with the DLC study on the relationship between jobs and capital investment, it confirms for me that AT&T and the Information Communications Technology sector as a whole can deliver the investment and innovation to create new lines of business, new sources of jobs, and new ways to meet critical national challenges. At AT&T, we heartily agree with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s assessment that universal broadband networks “can be America’s engine for enduring job creation, economic growth and tremendous improvements and savings in education, health care and energy conservation.” AT&T also agrees with the DLC’s findings that creating jobs depends on business investment, and that broadband, wireless infrastructure, and information technology are great places to invest.
So, I am encouraged that over the past three years, AT&T has invested a total of $55 billion in our networks, and will invest up to $19 billion more this year. That investment translates into jobs at AT&T across all of our lines of business. The mix of employment is changing as our business evolves, but we remain a leading source of high-quality, tech jobs right here in America. And, much of our investment is directed to the small businesses that typically lead in job creation. During 2009, AT&T added $9.5 billion to the bottom line of small business, including a large number of minority-run enterprises and companies headed by women and service-disabled veterans.
Ever since the January oral argument in the Comcast-BitTorrent case, there’s been speculation about the FCC’s authority over broadband Internet services. And as Tom reminds us, this question is linked to a larger and increasingly obvious truth—that the categories and boxes by which the ‘96 Telecom Act classifies services are visibly breaking down. So too are the old distinctions between different parts and players in the Internet ecosphere.
I’ve had a chance to read Tom’s entire speech, and find myself in agreement with nearly all of it intellectually. His conclusion, that Congress should consider a new statutory structure for communications regulation, is daunting. But this is indeed a subject we should be debating for it underlies most of the less sweeping regulatory arguments we’re having today.
The Technology Policy Institute and the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosted a discussion today on the FCC’s newly announced National Broadband Plan. Panel discussions focused on the plan’s impact on investment and broadband penetration. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President, Jim Cicconi participated in a panel titled “Increasing Incentives to Innovate and Invest.” His opening remarks are included in the video below.
He was joined by – Moderator: Tom Lenard – TPI, Kyle McSlarrow – NCTA, Peter Pitsch – Intel, Greg Rosston – SIEPR (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research,) and Tom Tauke – Verizon. To follow the event in progress, you can follow @NextGenWeb or check back here later for links to full video of the conference including the panel referenced above.
One of the best things about the National Broadband Plan is that it recognizes that to achieve its goals for broadband, the FCC must finally deal with certain issues that have been on its plate for years, like reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation. AT&T has been trying, with others, to roll those rocks up the public policy hill for quite some time, only to watch them slip down the hill time and time again.
Reasonable people may quibble over the length of the recommended transition (which would be completed in 2020 under the Plan’s timetable), but the Plan does call for near term treatment for a couple of festering sores – traffic pumping and VoIP compensation. I hit traffic pumping in my last blog. Today, let’s take a closer look at VoIP compensation, the subject of a meeting we had last Friday with the Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, Sharon Gillett.
VoIP compensation is basically the wild, wild West of telecom. No one knows what the “rule” is since the FCC has kept its lips tightly sealed on the matter for 15 years. Parties are free to argue for whatever rules they want, and even to argue for different rules depending on whether they’re buying termination or selling it (buy low, sell high based on regulatory mumbo jumbo is kind of the essence of arbitrage in this business). Needless to say, this vacuum has been filled by one resource the telecom industry never lacks – “innovative” arbitrageurs.
Authored By Jim Bugel, AT&T Assistant Vice President, Public Safety and Homeland Security
As we continue to sift through the details of the FCC’s 300-plus page National Broadband Plan, one clear theme that stands out is the Commission’s commitment to address cybersecurity. As more and more consumers gain access to broadband and incorporate it in their daily lives and as more and more applications in areas such as education and healthcare seek to realize broadband’s full potential, cybersecurity will become an even more important aspect of telecommunications policy.
Cybersecurity is an extremely complex challenge with many and varied dimensions. It involves policy and social issues, as well as the ever-changing technology and architecture of the global digital infrastructure. It involves not only our own networks for which we are responsible but the many varieties of end users’ devices and the applications and software consumers and businesses use, the access points that connect these devices to the global infrastructure, protocols which permit communication between applications and devices, and the content people want to post or access.
For AT&T, cybersecurity is a responsibility we take with extreme seriousness every second of every day. Like our competitors, we have put in place robust systems within our core network infrastructure designed to detect and mitigate cyber attacks against our infrastructure and to tackle emerging threats. We offer an extensive set of managed security services to our business and government customers, and we look to expand this capability to serve individual consumers as well.