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.”

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

A Personal Note

Posted by: Joan Marsh on October 3, 2016 at 1:39 pm

This week, I am privileged to take over leadership of AT&T’s Federal Regulatory team in AT&T’s DC office. I take the reins from my mentor, boss and friend, Bob Quinn, as he rises to succeed Jim Cicconi, who leaves us for the next chapter of his life and a richly-deserved retirement.

This opportunity comes to me at an important inflection point for our company, our industry and our country. We are on the precipice of a Presidential election that will, in all events, herald change during a time when communications companies are increasingly scrutinized through the lens of a dated regulatory code that is more and more untethered from the realities of today’s modern networks. We have moved well beyond trying to fit a square regulatory peg into a round regulatory hole to fundamental questions about whether pegs and holes are an adequate regulatory framework at all.

While I don’t know what issues will dominate the regulatory stage next year, I plan to proceed in my new role consistent with the high standards established by Jim and Bob – to engage in honest and fact-based debate, to listen in good faith to opposing viewpoints and to seek consensus wherever it can be found. Indeed, my many years of experience in DC teaches that the best solutions are often found not in the throes of a regulatory battle, but instead through collaboration and reasoned discussions with those most impacted by regulatory shifts. It was through collaboration that we unlocked the value of the WCS band that had been mired for a decade in regulatory limbo, that we found a workable and effective framework for improving wireless 911 location accuracy and that we resolved long-standing disputes around interoperability.

Read More

FCC Hosts first Robocall Strike Force Meeting; AT&T’s Stephenson to Chair Industry-Led Group

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 19, 2016 at 9:50 am

The following are remarks by AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson as prepared for delivery at the first Robocall Strike Force Meeting at the Federal Communications Commission on August 19, 2016:

Thank you, Chairman Wheeler. Good morning, everyone. I want to recognize the Chairman for proposing this strike force.  And I want to recognize and thank all the companies here today.  The 33 companies and organizations on the Strike Force represent the entire communications ecosystem.

The fact that we are all here speaks to the breadth and complexity of the robocall problem. This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps.  Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.  And technology such as spoofing makes it easier for them to work around our various fixes and hide their tracks.  So far, we’ve all been coming at this problem piecemeal with limited success, because robocalls continue to increase.

This strike force will need to take a different approach. If we truly want to deal with this, the entire ecosystem has to work together – carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers.  And don’t forget, regulators and lawmakers have a role to play.  We have to come out of this with a comprehensive play book for all of us to go execute.

Read More