AT&T Excited to Host Iraqi Interns

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm

In April 2009, I had the honor of joining leaders from Twitter, Howcast, WordPress, Meetup, Blue State Digital, Google, YouTube and Wired Magazine on a State Department technology delegation to Baghdad. Our goal was to look at ways that communications technologies could help improve civil society in Iraq. This trip was part of the innovative work being done by Jared Cohen, Alec Ross and others within the State Department to leverage the power of mobile phones and social networking to engage citizens throughout the world in modern diplomacy or, in the words of Secretary Clinton, “21st Century Statecraft.”

One of the highlights of the experience was visiting several of Iraq’s finest universities and meeting with many bright technology students. In speaking with the students, we recognized a great opportunity for the students to come to the US to work for American technology companies so they could get experience applying their IT skills for companies in the private sector and ideally develop ideas for starting businesses upon their return to Iraq.

I’m very pleased that the State Department has turned this idea into a reality. In her October 20th speech at the U.S.-Iraq Business and Investment Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the first-ever Iraqi IT Internship Program. And today, we couldn’t be more pleased to announce AT&T’s participation in this pilot effort.

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National Data Privacy Day

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

By Ellen Blackler, AT&T Executive Director – Public Policy

Today is National Data Privacy Day, a worldwide effort to raise awareness, improve transparency and generate dialogue surrounding data privacy issues impacting individuals, companies and governments.

Obviously, this is a good time to review the state of data privacy in the online world and AT&T’s ongoing commitment to the highest standards of data privacy.  Last summer, we unveiled our updated and streamlined data privacy policy.  Before the policy became final, we provided 45 days for consumer feedback – and improved the policy based on that feedback.  Our privacy policy is now written in plain language, is designed around many consumers’ concerns and clearly explains what data we collect, how we collect it, and how we use it.  But, we have not rested on these laurels.  We continue to look at new approaches to transparency and consumer control.

Later today, I will be participating in a Federal Trade Commission roundtable discussion in Berkeley, California.  The roundtable discussion will explore the privacy challenges posed by the fundamental expansion in scope and magnitude of online data collected and used for commercial purposes.  In the new world, even where discrete user information is anonymous, the growing capability to accumulate and associate data can result in a highly detailed, multi-dimensional view of a user beyond what is common in the offline world.

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Hey…Sports Fans, FCC Tells Cable Companies to Play Fair!

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave sports fans a reason to tailgate today by adopting rules to bring sports programming to more video providers.  Ultimately, this means consumers will have more choices in how and from who they receive programming they want.

While we still have to review the full details of the FCC’s ruling, the positive effects of the FCC’s decision should ultimately enable consumers in all markets to exercise their ability to choose an alternative video provider without having to give up rooting for their own local sports teams.  We are hopeful that with these new rules, consumers in Connecticut will no longer have to watch their favorite sports teams in standard definition just because they want to sign up for AT&T’s award-winning U-verse video service, nor will baseball fans in San Diego have to give up the Padres to make the same choice. [Cox and Cablevision complaints.]

Consumers should give the FCC a well deserved standing ovation for coming off the bench to once and for all close the so-called terrestrial loophole that has long deprived consumers of local sports programming. Today’s action by the FCC beefs up the rules to ensure that AT&T’s U-verse TV service with its 2 million and growing subscribers are able to view the content that they want.

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A Consumer-Based Standard for Protecting the Open Internet

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

Last night, we filed comments in the FCC’s Open Internet rulemaking.  For those of you who want to read our submission in full, you can do so here.  Also, I’m happy to report that we have three bonus features attached to our filing.  First, a paper written by two respected, former FCC officials, Gerald Faulhaber and David Farber.  Second, two wireless experts, Jeffrey Reed and Nishith Tripathi, discuss the impact of the proposed rules on wireless broadband networks.  And third, Marius Schwartz, former DoJ official in the Clinton Administration provides an economic analysis and likely effects of the proposed rules.

For those that want the cliff’s notes version of our filing, you can continue reading this blog post.

AT&T supports the goal that this rulemaking embarks to accomplish:  preserve the openness of the Internet while maintaining the right incentives for deployment of next-generation “smart” networks needed to support all the applications, content and services that consumers want.  Although undoubtedly developed with the best of intentions, we don’t believe that the FCC’s proposed rules, as written, will accomplish these goals.  However, we hope and fully expect that, as this process moves forward, many of the concerns and questions being raised from a lot of different quarters will be addressed and we will retain a framework that protects Internet openness while preserving incentives that will promote infrastructure investment to keep the Internet the vibrant marketplace it is today.

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U-Verse TV, Video Game Consoles and Broadband Deployment

Posted by: Chris Boyer on January 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and while there’s been a lot of buzz about AT&T’s announcing its support of Android phones and about the usual new CE devices like tablet PCs, netbooks, e-readers and 3D TVs that were on display, I want to highlight an underappreciated announcement that has public policy implications for video services.

In his keynote address on Wednesday evening, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that both the Xbox 360 and Windows 7 PCs will support Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft’s IPTV solution that powers AT&T’s U-verse service.  As Ballmer mentioned, AT&T is planning to introduce the option for U-verse TV customers to use their Xbox 360 as a U-verse set-top box later this year.  There is the potential of doing the same for Mediaroom-capable PCs in the future.

Why is this important to policymakers?  Last month the FCC issued an inquiry as part of its National Broadband Plan raising several questions related to set-top boxes which, as explained by Saul Hansell in the NY Times Bits Blog included “Why can’t that box you get from your cable company also get programs over the Internet and from other sources?” and “Would the availability of set-top boxes in retail stores encourage people to get broadband Internet service…and create a competitive market in devices that hook up to cable systems?”

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