Today Public Knowledge sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon as the first step in the process of filing open internet complaints against each of them at the FCC. The letters address violations of the FCC’s transparency requirements, which are the only part of the open internet rules that survived court challenge.
As regular readers know, I regard the upgrade of the phone
system (aka the "public switched telephone network" or
"PSTN") to an all-IP based network as
a majorly huge deal. As I’ve explained at
length before, this is a huge deal because of a bunch of decisions the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made over the years that have
fragmented our various policies and regulations about phones into a crazy-quilt
of different rules tied sometimes to the technology (IP v. traditional phone (TDM))
and sometimes to the actual medium of transmission (copper v. fiber v. cable v.
As we wrote back in November, AT&T’s decision to
upgrade its network from tradition phone technology (called “TDM”) to an all
Internet protocol (IP) system has enormous implications for every aspect of our
voice communication system in the country. To provide the right framework for
the transition, Public Knowledge submitted to the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) our proposed “Five Fundamentals” Framework: Service to All
Americans, Interconnection and Competition, Consumer Protection, Network
Reliability, and Public Safety.
Rarely do you see companies double-dare the FCC to back up
their brave talk about promoting competition. That is, however, what AT&T
has just decided to do – with a little help from Verizon. After gobbling a ton
of spectrum last year in a series of
small transactions, AT&T announced earlier this week it would buy up
ATNI, which holds the last shreds of the old Alltel Spectrum. To top this off,
Verizon just announced it has selected the purchaser for the 700 MHz spectrum
it promised to sell off to get permission to buy the SpectrumCo spectrum. And
I believe AT&T’s announcement last week about its
plans to upgrade its network and replace its rural copper lines with wireless
is the single most important development in telecom since passage of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. It impacts just about every aspect of wireline
and wireless policy.
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