AT&T Response to Wireless Bureau’s Review of Sponsored Data Programs

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“It remains unclear why the Wireless Bureau continues to question the value of giving consumers the ability to watch video without incurring any data charges. This practice, which has been embraced by AT&T and other broadband providers, has enabled millions of consumers to enjoy the latest popular content and services – for free.  We hope the government continues to support a competitive marketplace that lowers costs and increases choice for consumers.”

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AT&T Responds, Again, to Wireless Bureau’s Sponsored Data Inquiry

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on December 15, 2016 at 3:04 pm

The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:

“As we explain (again) in the response provided to the Wireless Bureau today, the video entertainment marketplace is ripe for disruptive change, which is exactly why consumers have enthusiastically embraced Data Free TV in all its competitive forms. That enthusiasm has caused competitors to react with additional consumer-friendly video offerings, like the T-Mobile offer announced today. And although the Commission has decided to apply Title II to broadband services, the Wireless Bureau’s analysis of AT&T’s sponsored data platform abandons decades of Title II jurisprudence to raise questions about a service that undeniably increases choice and lowers costs for video consumers. This is exactly the type of pro-consumer benefit that the DirecTV acquisition was designed to achieve.

“We also note that the concerns being raised are not those of the FCC – which would require that the Commissioners be given an opportunity to consider the analysis – but rather those solely of the Bureau Staff. As we explain in the filing today, Bureau Staff lacks the authority to take action on a matter presenting new or novel questions of law or policy – something this inquiry indisputably does given that the Internet conduct standard at issue here prescribes no clear rules of any kind, and the Bureau’s novel interpretation of that provision guts decades of regulatory and competition policy precedent.”

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BDS Reform: Winners and Losers

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 11, 2016 at 11:02 am

Yesterday, Chairman Walden cautioned the FCC that instituting new regulations at this time is unnecessary, unwanted and unfair.  Yet next week, the FCC plans to vote on the sweeping nationwide re-regulation of TDM-based transport and access services.  The FCC’s proposal, as outlined in the Business Data Services (BDS) Fact Sheet released some weeks ago, picks regulatory winners and losers without regard to the significant factual and economic evidence presented in the docket.  Here’s our take on where that scoreboard currently stands.

Loser:  The Facts

The facts about the state of competition in the BDS market were invited to the party via the FCC’s data collection, but were then told to go stand in the corner and not talk to anyone.  The fundamental promise of this proceeding was that the FCC would actually measure competition and regulate only where it did not exist.  That promise was badly broken with the proposal to declare all legacy TDM access and transport facilities below 50 Mbps non-competitive.

If the facts were allowed to talk, they would tell you that ninety percent of AT&T’s sub-50 Mbps bandwidth is within a half mile of competitive fiber and fifty-five percent of CenturyLink’s low capacity bandwidth is in buildings that have two or more competitors within 1,000 feet.  In major urban markets, there are often more than a dozen fiber transport providers – in some of them two dozen.  Indeed, that the transport market is in fact robustly competitive was not disputed on this record and yet the FCC proposes to pull transport facilities fully into the new regulatory regime.

In short, the facts demonstrated that CLEC and cable facilities compete against low capacity BDS demand in the majority of markets.  But the facts have been dismissed and none of that was taken into consideration.

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The Next Logical Step in
Intercarrier Comp Reform

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 3, 2016 at 10:42 am

By Matt Nodine, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory

Turning around an aircraft carrier, if done correctly, takes lead time, requires great care and precision, and depends on a large crew with a variety of skills, all working together in harmony for a common cause.

Intercarrier compensation reform (ICC) is one such ship. Wisely, the FCC began this turn in 2011 with terminating access reform, working with a broad cross-section of industry, consumer groups and policymakers to decisively steer industry away from the arbitrage and schemes of unscrupulous actors, and toward what it termed “market discipline.” With the FCC’s course set, industry charted its path toward greater competition.

Now that we are several years into the FCC’s reforms, it is time to review the state of the marketplace, assess prior reforms, identify weaknesses and address next steps. With our petition for forbearance, which we filed Friday, the FCC can begin the next phase of reform we believe will benefit consumers, increase broadband investment and improve competition.

First, some background. In the 2011 USF/ICC Transformation Order, the FCC did its work well by adopting a regulatory regime that determined that a “uniform national bill-and-keep framework” would be the “ultimate end state” for all telecommunications traffic between carriers. The FCC’s action addressed some of the worst aspects of access arbitrage on the terminating access side, including what the Commission described as “access stimulation.” These so-called “traffic pumpers,” who consistently game the system to grossly inflate providers’ costs – and consumers’ bills – by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, were finally constrained. For many carriers, terminating end office switching rates complete the bill-and-keep transition on July 1, 2017.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on September 12, 2016 at 11:35 am

By Caroline Van Wie, AT&T Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory

As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Statistics are particularly concerning when they’re taken out of context or used to prop up policies which the body of the larger economic analysis would not support. When it comes to the Commission’s analysis of the Business Data Services market, basing policies on a handful of outlier statistical results while ignoring the weight of the evidence and the data’s deep-seated flaws would result in a disastrous outcome for broadband investment.

Over the past several months, the FCC – first through its hired economist, and later through Staff – has released over 100 regressions that purport to analyze the data the Commission has collected about the Business Data Services market. Each time, the FCC announced that the regressions show that ILECs retain market power for legacy DS1 and DS3 services. Each time, economists, including those the FCC asked to conduct peer reviews of the FCC regressions, observed that the regressions suffer from significant flaws that render them unreliable, including the severe correlation/causation problem that economists refer to as “endogeneity,” incomplete and incorrect data on pricing and the number of competitors, mismatches in the pricing and competitor data, and incorrect methods for computing the statistical significance of the results. And each time, we noted that some of the most significant of these flaws are not fixable because of the limitations of the data available to the FCC’s economists.

Undeterred, FCC Staff released yet another set of regressions in late August. These regressions address one of the problems with the earlier regressions – the flawed method for determining statistical significance. As a result of that correction, many of the prior results purportedly demonstrating the presence of market power in legacy DS1s and DS3s fell by the wayside. Those results now show nothing of the sort. But, no less important, as explained in a white paper filed last week by Drs. Israel, Rubinfeld, and Woroch, the revised regressions do not address the core, foundational flaws that continue to plague the entire exercise. Because of these deep-seated flaws, the regressions continue to produce wildly inconsistent and often anomalous results that in many cases conflict with basic economics. These erratic results confirm that the endogeneity and other data-related flaws are dominating the regressions, and thus they cannot be used to support any conclusions about ILEC market power for DS1s and DS3s.    

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