Back at the FCC: Congress Responds to AT&T Merger

With everyone on vacation or preparing for vacation, the FCC released letters from our Congressional representatives regarding their feelings on the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile.

None of the opinions express should come as a surprise to anyone following this debate. The longest and most detailed letter was drafted by Rep. Herbert Kohl, Chairman of the House Anti-Trust Sub-Committee.

Kohl strikes a blow for smaller regional wireless carriers, noting that they already pay high access charges to AT&T and Verizon to complete cellular calls.  And with these two former Bells acting as primary toll collectors for long-distance connections, regional wireless players are not very motivated to go national and face steeper chargers or other barriers. Continue reading

AT&T 2Q2011 Results: Still Wired

While AT&T may be boasting about the wireless side of the business in its 2Q results, Ma Bell 2.0 is still very dependent on its copper cables.

True, wireless revenue has been doing the growing, rising to $14.1 billion over the last three months and 7% ahead of last year’s numbers.

Other good news: AT&T claims over 3.5 million iPhone activations this past quarter, in spite of sharing this market with its cousin, Verizon.

Bottom line: AT&T’s operating income for wireless this past quarter was over $4 billion, compared to the wired side’s “mere” $2 billion.

As carriers and the FCC currently review pulling the plug on POTS,  it’s a good time to look again at all the revenue that remains in voice and POIS (Plain Old Internet Service). Continue reading

Good Move AT&T: Free WiFi in NYC Parks

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg announced today an agreement with AT&T to provide free public WiFi service for the next five years in 20 city parks.

They’ll soon be coverage in parts of Manhattan’s Central Park, in Battery Park, along the trendy High Line, and Tompkins Square Park.

Thank you AT&T and New York City. Now I can realize my dream of checking emails on a non-3G Android tablet while strolling in “The Ramble”.

Brooklyn residents will be able to connect with AT&T’s WiFi in Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Fort Greene Park.

On a related matter, their WiFi initiative takes some of the sting out of one of Sprint’s criticisms in its lengthy petition to deny the T-Mobile acquisition.Continue reading

Why Else Would You Go to the Grand Canyon?

There may be good arguments in support of AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile, but improved WiFi access in the Grand Canyon is not one of them.

But that’s the claim that the Grand Canyon Hotel Operators Association makes in its comment to the FCC.

In the words of this trade group: “What our beloved canyon does not have, however, is state of the art wireless broadband service.”

Continue reading

Back at the FCC: Sprint Files 377-Page Petition

I’m going to review this massive petition to denial filing—redacted, though, for public viewing—over this short holiday week. Not surprisingly, Sprint Nextel is not happy with AT&T’s bid to swallow T-Mobile.

With the word duopoloy (according to my PDF search) showing up on 21 pages and anti-competitive on another 23 pages, I think you get an inkling of how this carrier feels.

And here’s a choice nugget from the beginning of this thing:Continue reading

Douglas Holtz-Eakin: AT&T Is Not a Monopoly

Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin has filed his $.02 in the FCC’s AT&T/T-Mobile docket.

According to Eakin, who was John McCain’s economic adviser on the campaign trail:

If this merger is approved by the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission, no monopoly will dominate the telecommunications market. T-Mobile was hardly the only competitor and AT&T still must compete with its main national rival, Verizon.

You can read the rest of his letter below.Continue reading

So Who Invented the Cell Phone Again?

CNET has gone on a spelunking expedition into the recent AT&T FCC filing and brought a few things up to the surface. One nugget that caught my attention is from a document written by AT&T’s Chief Technology Officer, John Donovan.

Donovan says AT&T “invented the first mobile phone and the first mobile network”.

Wait, wasn’t there another company involved? It will come back to me.Continue reading

Everything Will Be Up to Date in Kansas City

Now that Larry “Willie Wonka” Page has named Kansas City, Kansas the winner of the golden gigabit contest, residents there will soon be like kids in the broadband candy store.

If all goes to plan, they’ll be gorging out on super high-speed Internet goodies in 2012

You’re probably asking what the broadband situation is like in Kansas City currently, and what about a color-coded map based on the FCC’s 477 data?

We gave this project to our own oompa loompas, and they’ve cheerfully come with just the right map.Continue reading

Broadband Data Caps: Worldwide View

With the announcement that AT&T will be ending its all you can eat broadband for DSL and U-Verse customers, I decided to take a look at how US broadband compares with the rest of the world.

And I mean beyond Canada.

I perused data  from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),  which tracks broadband metrics, among many other economic indicators, internationally.

The US now joins Iceland, Australia, Turkey, Ireland,  and the UK,  as a place where major ISPs market monthly pricing plans with overusage charges.

From a global perspective, it appears that AT&T’s plan is (gasp) generous: a ceiling of 150 GB  for DSL (250 GB for its fiber-based U-Verse) and $10 per 50 GB of additional usage.

Continue reading

Twilight of POTS Regulation

Telecom consultant Gary Audin has recently come out with a solid overview article on a question that has no doubt kept telecom wonks up at night: Can the PSTN be Shut Down?

I include myself in that geeky group who ponders whether the public switched telepone network (PSTN) can be unplugged. For those not familiar with the building blocks of our legacy telephone system —class five and four switching points, trunks, copper pairs—his article should be edifying.

Audin’s end-of-life discussion (available from was triggered by an AT&T comment submitted to the FCC back in December 2009. The unthinkable is more than an academic exercise for our nation’s largest carrier. In their filing, AT&T asked the FCC to workout a “firm deadline for the phase out of POTS service and the PSTN.”

AT&T was writing in response to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan inquiry, and their suggestions and advocacy are framed as a way to achieve this agency’s call for universal  broadband: dropping support of the PSTN, they say, will allow it to focus on in its major IP initiative, U-verse (more on that later).

I suppose I’m impressed that AT&T is looking to the FCC for leadership in this area, considering their overall low opinion of our nation’s telecom regulators.

So you know they must want something.Continue reading