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.
Once 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