Boxes Tumbling Down

Posted by: Jim Cicconi on March 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

Yesterday, in a speech to the New Democrat Network, my friend Tom Tauke added some fuel to a simmering debate. I’m glad he did.

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.

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Jim Cicconi’s Opening Remarks from “National Broadband Plan: The Early Reaction” at The Press Club

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

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.

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Sisyphus, VoIP and the National Broadband Plan

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on March 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

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.

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Cybersecurity and the National Broadband Plan

Posted by: Margaret Boles on March 18, 2010 at 8:19 am

Authored By Jim Bugel, AT&T Assistant Vice President, Public Safety and Homeland Security

BugelAs 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. 

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Comments by AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson on the FCC’s National Broadband Plan

Posted by: Margaret Boles on March 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

After over a year of debate, discussion, comment, hard work, and planning by the FCC, tomorrow the National Broadband Plan will be released to the public and delivered to Congress.

While we’ve not yet seen the details, the FCC, led by Chairman Genachowski, has conducted a thorough process, welcoming public input and participation, and we thank them for their efforts.

We’re pleased that the Plan apparently addresses a number of important issues on which the FCC can make significant contributions to the success of broadband and its increasingly important role in our daily lives, our economy, and our government.

Rightfully, universal service and intercarrier compensation reform are critical components of the National Broadband Plan.  Reforming universal service and ensuring affordable broadband for all Americans are the two most critical components of achieving universal broadband.  At the same time, they are also the most difficult and perplexing issues the FCC has struggled with over the last fifteen years.  But we cannot shy away from addressing the hard issues if we are serious about achieving universal broadband deployment and adoption, and we commend the FCC Broadband Team for taking the first steps in this long but crucial journey.

Along with this, we have noted, as have many others, that taking full advantage of the broadband revolution will require new spectrum, and we are very pleased that the FCC has been working to identify 500 MHz of new spectrum for wireless broadband.  Without it, the currently available spectrum simply cannot support new usage, new applications, and innovation – in areas from education to health to jobs.

Finally, as the plan rightly recognizes, we cannot realize its ambitious goal of major new broadband deployments without continued, massive private sector investment.  Even in the midst of this painful recession, AT&T invested $17 billion in 2009 – and we intend to increase our investments this year by as much as $2 billion.   Investments at this high level are rare for any company and should not be taken for granted.  Policymakers should keep this in mind as the debate moves forward.  Regulatory policies must continue to support such investment lest they undercut the core objectives of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.  It’s as simple as that.  That’s why we’re pleased that the FCC’s plan recognizes the indispensable role of private investment, and why we remain hopeful the FCC will maintain a regulatory atmosphere favorable to that investment.

Randall StephensonOnce again, I commend the Congress for requesting this Plan and the FCC for its hard work in preparing it.  While we may not agree with every recommendation in the Plan, and may even oppose certain ideas, all of us at AT&T look forward to rolling up our sleeves to do our part to achieve this important national objective of 100% broadband availability and adoption.  With everyone working together, and by continuing an atmosphere conducive to private investment, this ambitious goal is within our reach.

Randall Stephenson,  AT&T Chairman and CEO

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