Making Access to Broadband
A Reality for Low-Income Americans

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm

AT&T has long supported universal access to broadband for all Americans.  And through our Access from AT&T low cost broadband program, we are making broadband a reality for low-income consumers for $10 a month or less.  We believe that, at this time, Access from AT&T is a better way for AT&T to address broadband adoption than by participating in the new Lifeline broadband program.  So, today, we are notifying the FCC that we are “opting-in” to the forbearance granted in the Commission’s 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order.

AT&T has consistently supported including broadband in the Lifeline program.  And we still do. Broadband is unquestionably the service that must be universally available to all Americans.   But the structure and administration of the Lifeline program itself needed major modernization before it could be relied upon as an agent of change.  Our support for comprehensive reform of the federal Lifeline program included proposals on consumer empowerment and eliminating the inefficient service provider role in administration of the Lifeline program.  Recognizing this, the FCC adopted important process reforms at the same time that it updated the program to cover broadband.  Chief among these was the decision to take service providers out of the role of determining eligibility and administering other program rules by establishing a new National Eligibility Verifier, which will be run by the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC).

The problem is, while the new Lifeline broadband requirements for service providers take effect in a little over a week, the National Eligibility Verifier will not be fully implemented until 2019.  In the interim, service providers are left carrying the same administrative load and compliance risks they had before the reform.  AT&T wireline currently has less than 3% of the voice Lifeline market.  Accepting the forbearance means we still have the option to offer Lifeline discounts on broadband.  But it makes little sense to spend resources on implementation of soon-to-be-replaced administrative rules for a new service when we are already offering low-income consumers a better deal through our Access from AT&T program.

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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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Making Mobility Fund II Work

Posted by: Joan Marsh on November 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm

As part of the Connect America Fund (CAF), the FCC created the Mobility Fund – a universal service support mechanism dedicated exclusively to mobile services – and in 2012 held the first Mobility Fund (MFI) auction. Since that time, the FCC has gained substantial experience with other CAF programs, including CAF I and II. So, as the FCC considers a draft order on the Mobility Fund II (MFII) framework, the FCC has a substantial CAF history on which to assess any MFII framework, and consider whether methods and procedures that have been effective elsewhere should apply consistently to all CAF programs.

Unfortunately, with the MFII proposals now pending for a vote, it would appear that many of the important CAF learnings have been lost. This is all the more regrettable as MFI continues to face significant implementation challenges, with substantial funds still undisbursed and compliance challenges mounting.

There are three areas in which the Commission could act to make the MFII program stronger, more sustainable and more attractive to participants.

First, the MFII proposal parts ways with the sensible build-out milestones adopted in CAF II. With CAF II funding, the deployment milestones progress evenly over six years. This approach better reflects how networks are planned and deployed and thus reduces obstacles to carriers accepting funding obligations. All CAF II recipients must deploy in even increments over six years with the first enforceable milestone of 40% in year three (to allow initial time for planning and procurement) and 20% increments in the following years to full deployment.

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AT&T Statement on FCC’s Privacy Order

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

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

“AT&T has long been committed to a clear and transparent approach to ensuring that the privacy rights of our customers are protected. For this reason, AT&T is pleased that the FCC listened to the parties to this proceeding, including the FTC, and adopted a privacy framework that mirrors in many ways the approach taken by the FTC, which regulates the privacy practices of virtually all other companies operating in the internet ecosystem. We also support the decision by the Commission to expand the permissible scope of reasonable first-party marketing and to harmonize the voice and data rules to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement.

“The framework adopted today, however, departs from the FTC regime in significant and illogical ways, most importantly in the treatment of web browsing and app history data. In this regard, the FCC’s order falls short of recognizing that consumers want their information protected based on the sensitivity of the information collected, not the entity collecting it. The FCC’s divergent approach will ultimately serve only to confuse consumers, who will continue to see ads based on their web browsing history generated by edge providers even after they have been told by their service provider that their consent is required for use of such information.”

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TOPICS: Consumers, Privacy
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FCC Hosts Second Meeting of Robocall Strike Force; Industry Delivers Short and Long-Term Solutions

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Today, AT&T committed to immediately start working with vendors and to be ready for carrier interoperability verification by the 4th quarter of 2017. These standards will make it easier to mitigate robocalls and go after the bad actors. AT&T fully intends to meet this aggressive timeline.  

The following are remarks by AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson as prepared for delivery at the second meeting of the Robocall Strike Force at the Federal Communications Commission on October 26, 2016.

 

Thank you, Melissa. Good afternoon, everyone.

Sixty days ago, Chairman Wheeler issued a challenge to us to figure out how to stop both illegal and unwanted robocalls…It is the FCC’s number one consumer complaint.

So, we brought together 30 representatives from every corner of the communications ecosystem – network operators, device manufacturers, and OS developers – And I want to thank the members of the strike force. What you have accomplished in just two months is impressive.

And we should also thank the federal law enforcement agencies and the National Association of Attorneys General for working with us to quickly identify illegal robocallers and shut them down.

These steps are just the beginning. But as Melissa told you, they are already having a significant impact. Obviously, it goes without saying that we still have a lot of work left to do.

To that end, our members are working with the standards bodies to keep building on our progress. And each of the Strike Force members has committed to provide the resources needed to continue fighting this problem. One of the stickier issues will be figuring out an economically viable path to sustain these solutions going forward.

Chairman Wheeler and the Commissioners…Thank you for convening this strike force. We could not have gotten this ball rolling so quickly without your leadership. Working with the Commission and others, I am confident we will develop the tools to make this issue a thing of the past.

Thank you.

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