Posted by: Bob Quinn on June 5, 2012 at 7:55 am
The FCC has circulated an order that would undo more than 12 years of Clinton-era, deregulatory pricing policy on legacy non-packet services. The services in question are called “special access” services – 95% of which are slow 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) TDM (think POTS) services. That is not a misprint. We are not talking about 100 Mbps connections – services we should actually be figuring out how to get to more people in more places. We are not even talking about fiber. We are talking about legacy, copper-based services that are so slow the services would not qualify for a single dollar of Universal Service Fund (USF) support if they were deployed to homes throughout rural America under the Commission’s recent USF order.
We are concerned about the impact the proposed action is going to have for the overall transition to IP technology that the FCC had begun in that USF order. The transition to IP cannot happen fast enough. The industry needs to move to a more cost-effective, all-IP infrastructure if we are going to remain a globally competitive economic force. In regulatory time, that transition must occur with incredible speed. Once subsidies are removed from TDM/POTS infrastructure, carriers will need to nimbly move to retire that infrastructure to make way for an all-IP world. In the USF order, the FCC took a great step in that direction by declaring the obsolescence of TDM/POTS.
To make those investments work, however, there must also be a path away from the costs of the legacy infrastructure. AT&T itself is in the process of evaluating how we are going to address the overall rural investment issues in our own footprint. Today’s announcement by the Commission will have a significant impact on those calculations and the feasibility of long-term rural investment. Simply put, if there is no clear path to migrate to an all-IP infrastructure, that investment calculation looks much more challenging.
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Attribute the following statement to AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer, Bob Quinn:
“Reform of the government’s universal service Lifeline program is long overdue. The Lifeline program administered by the FCC is growing at an alarming rate – the fund had 33% year-over-year growth from 2010 to 2011 alone and has more than doubled in size since the end of 2008. If every person eligible were to subscribe to the program, the fund would stand at over $5 billion dollars – three times the size of the fund today.
“While the steps the FCC announced today are commendable, we fear the speed of reform is getting far outpaced by the actual dollar growth of the fund itself. Policymakers must begin to discuss whether it continues to make sense for an independent agency to administer a fund this size with no Congressional oversight or decision-making input to the appropriate size of the fund. Counterpart programs for both energy and food are not administered in this manner. They are subject to the Congressional budgetary processes and are not funded by taxing the users of those services – no one must pay an 18% tax on the electric bill to fund the low income electric programs. One has to wonder why communications consumers are treated differently in this regard.
“While that discussion is hopefully taking place, we will continue to work with the Commission to implement these reforms and hopefully work to move quickly on the most necessary reforms (like taking eligibility decisions out of the hands of consumers and service providers) addressed in today’s Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.”
Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on October 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Washington, DC –The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted an Order to reform the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Inter-Carrier Compensation (ICC) rules for the broadband era. You may attribute the following statement to AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory & Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn:
“The FCC today took an important step in transforming the concept of universal service. By redefining the 21st century basic service, which all Americans should have access to, as broadband instead of traditional voice, the FCC has recognized the fundamental technological transformation that has occurred across the globe over the past fifteen years. Many Commissions have attempted to solve this seemingly insoluble problem without success. Managing all of the moving industry pieces has been compared to trying to change a tire on a car racing down the highway. This historic achievement could not have occurred without the leadership of Chairman Genachowski, and the commitment of Commissioners Clyburn, McDowell and Copps to work together and to find a path forward.
“While no one can say that it is thrilled with all aspects of what the FCC did today, we are cognizant that we shouldn’t lose sight of the forest – the significance of what this decision means to all Americans – through the trees. In the future, the basic level of service that United States policy will encourage and fund will be broadband and not simply voice service. This is a significant achievement worthy of congratulations and its impact on all Americans should not be minimized. With that said, we look forward to carefully reviewing the details of the FCC’s order before we can fully understand all of its implications.”