Remember how Verizon argued in 2012 that net neutrality rules violate its First and Fifth Amendment rights?
While Verizon itself isn’t challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s latest net neutrality order, AT&T and the other Internet service providers that are suing the FCC have resurrected this argument.
In a statement of issues that AT&T intends to raise when the case moves further into the court process, the company said last week that it plans on challenging whether the FCC’s net neutrality order “violates the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution.” The First and Fifth Amendment will be used to attack the FCC’s decision to reclassify both fixed and mobile broadband as common carrier services, as well as the FCC’s assertion of authority over how ISPs interconnect with other networks.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson last November claimed he would pause the company’s fiber investments because of the impending broadband reclassification and imposition of net neutrality rules.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” Stephenson said at the time.
But now that the Federal Communications Commission has reclassified broadband providers as common carriers and used its Title II authority to impose net neutrality rules, Stephenson says AT&T is confident that it can keep investing. It’s not because AT&T agrees with the rules, as the company has sued to overturn them. Instead, Stephenson said he is confident that either the courts or Congress will overturn or heavily alter the FCC’s decision.
“The exact comment I made was we’re going to put a pause on our new broadband deployment plans until we see how these rules came out,” Stephenson said today in an interview with CNBC. “We have seen how the rules came out. As we read those rules, we do believe they’re subject to modification by the courts and remand by the courts to the FCC.”
Keep in mind, Title II was put in place with a 3-2 vote of this commission. Title II could be changed by a 3-2 vote from another commission,” Stephenson said. “There’s just a lot of moving parts here. We think it’s unlikely the rules will stay in place like they are in the long term.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — AT&T has confirmed that it has fired Aaron Slator, a president who became the subject of a $100 million discrimination lawsuit for using his work phone to send racially offensive images.
AT&T said in a statement that Slator has been terminated, saying that there is no place for demeaning behavior within the company. The company says it regretted not taking the action earlier.
On Monday, Knoyme (NOH-mee) King, a 50-year-old black woman who worked for Slator, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Slator, the company and its CEO, Randall Stephenson.
King’s lawyer, Skip Miller, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the suit will continue and alleged that racism permeates the company. He said its board of directors was aware of the offensive images for over a year.
The Republicans aren’t the only ones who have extortion as a guiding philosophy.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said today that his company will “pause” investments in fiber networks until the net neutrality debate is over. The statement came two days after President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband as a utility and impose bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” Stephenson told investors, according to Reuters. “We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like.” Stephenson was speaking at a Wells Fargo event.
AT&T said in April that it would “expand its ultra-fast fiber network to up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide,” but it never promised to build in all of them. Buildouts were dependent on local officials cooperating with the company. AT&T has also claimed that it will bring fiber to “two million additional locations” if the federal government approves its purchase of DirecTV. But AT&T has never said how many customers will get AT&T fiber if the deal isn’t approved, making it impossible to judge whether the potential investment would be an increase over existing plans.
So Comcast will own most of the cable system and ATT will own the biggest satellite provider. May as well buy Dish, too. Get rid of that pointless duplication and fire a boatload of redundant personnel.
Oh, and raise rates. A lot.
NEW YORK May 17 (Reuters) - AT&T is close to announcing that it will buy the No. 1 U.S. satellite TV operator DirecTV, according to people familiar with the matter, in the second potentially transformative deal to jolt the U.S. television industry this year.
AT&T has been in active discussions to buy DirecTV for nearly $50 billion, or low to mid-$90s per share, and has been working to finalize a deal in coming weeks, Reuters reported last Monday.
The two companies agreed key terms of the proposed transaction and are expected to announce the agreement in days pending final approval from each company’s board, one of the people said on Saturday, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.
The takeover would be the latest in a string of mega-acquisitions AT&T has considered, including an abortive bid for T-Mobile USA in 2011, as well as a potential takeover of Vodafone Plc, which receded as a possibility after Comcast Corp surprised the industry this year with a $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable Inc.
AT&T has “approached” DirecTV about buying the satellite television company, according to the Wall Street Journal’s sources.
DirecTV has 20.25 million subscribers in the US (and another 17.6 million in Latin America), while AT&T has 5.7 million U-verse TV subscribers.
“The nearly 26 million subscribers served by the combined company would compare with Comcast which—with TWC—would serve close to 30 million subscribers,” the Journal wrote. Comcast has 21.7 million cable TV customers today but is trying to buy Time Warner Cable.
Buying DirecTV would probably require AT&T to spend at least $40 billion. AT&T approached DirecTV about an acquisition after Comcast announced its deal to buy TWC, the Journal wrote: “It is unclear whether the companies are in detailed talks, but another person familiar with the situation said that DirecTV would be open to a deal. The satellite TV industry is facing a slowdown in subscriber growth after years of adding customers. The pay television market in the US is now mature, with about 90 percent of US households with TV now subscribing to either cable, satellite, or phone company-delivered television.”
In recent years AT&T also held talks with Dish Network, which has 14 million customers and has remained independent. There have recently been reports that Dish and DirecTV are talking about merging.
One hundred years ago Thursday, one man sent a letter that would transform the telephone industry. The letter gave rise to the country’s last and most powerful monopoly. And like the Internet of this century, it gave millions of ordinary people the chance to stay in touch more easily than they ever had before.
The letter’s author was Nathan C. Kingsbury — a vice president of AT&T many have since forgotten. But his 1913 correspondence rapidly made its way from Kingsbury’s desk to the attorney general’s, and soon after, to President Woodrow Wilson’s.
Wilson’s administration was threatening a legal assault on AT&T. The telephone company had been aggressively buying up its competitors around the country — maybe too many. Perhaps AT&T should be broken up, Wilson mused. Perhaps the government should take control.
Then came Kingsbury’s letter. In under 900 words, Kingsbury smoothed everything over. It produced a miraculous result in Wilson and his deputy in the Justice Department.
“I gain the impression more and more from week to week that the businessmen of the country are sincerely desirous of conforming with the law,” Wilson gushed, “and it is very gratifying to have the occasion, as in this instance, to deal with them in complete frankness and to be able to show them that all that we desire is an opportunity to cooperate with them.”
The White House’s antitrust concerns were resolved practically overnight.
Comcast is to begin hijacking browsers of its internet subscribers who are detected of repeatedly infringing on public file-sharing networks while Cablevision Systems said it would suspend subscribers for 24 hours after their fifth offense.
The punishment comes as the nation’s biggest internet service providers this week began rolling out the so-called “Copyright Alert System,” which is backed by the President Barack Obama administration and was heavily pushed by the recording and movie studios.
The plan, more than four years in the making, includes participation by AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. Others could soon join.
Generally, after four offenses, the historic plan calls for these residential internet providers to initiate so-called “mitigation measures” (.pdf) that might include reducing internet speeds and redirecting a subscriber’s service to an “educational” landing page about infringement. Those measures began to take shape this week.
Comcast announced a plan that virtually deadens a subscriber’s ability to surf the web after four infringement violations — which the ISPs are calling “Copyright Alerts.”
AT&T has a sneaky plan.
It wants to exploit a loophole in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s rules to kill what remains of the public telecommunications network — and all of the consumer protections that go with it. It’s the final step in AT&T’s decade-long effort to end all telecommunications regulation, and the simplicity of the plan highlights a dysfunction unique to the American regulatory system.
AT&T and other big telecom carriers want to replace the portions of their networks that still use circuit-switching technology with equipment that uses Internet Protocol (IP) to route voice and data traffic. But because the FCC previously decided that it has no direct authority over communications networks that use IP, this otherwise routine technological upgrade could lead to a state of total deregulation.
The immediate consumer impact of AT&T’s proposal would be swift and severe:
Higher prices. Remember what happened after California partially deregulated AT&T in 2006? The price of some basic voice services tripled. AT&T wants to make this happen everywhere. Also, the ability of many smaller wireless carriers to offer competitively priced services is based on specific regulations that prevent special access providers like AT&T and Verizon from charging exorbitant rates. These protections against monopoly prices will disappear if AT&T gets its way.
Inequality and discrimination. Seniors, low-income families, and rural residents — all of whom are more likely to rely on fixed-line voice services or dial-up internet access — would especially feel the pinch. Carriers that are now required to offer universal service will be free to redline poor neighborhoods and disconnect consumers at will. Elderly grandmothers living on fixed incomes rely on rate-regulated landlines to stay connected, but they need not worry: AT&T has an expensive wireless plan they can purchase instead.
Born profoundly deaf, Brendan lives in Seattle with his wife, son, and 2 dogs, In his spare time, he enjoys fatherhood, the outdoors, and homebrewing beers with his homebrew club.
When I learned that Apple would finally be enabling the iPhone’s FaceTime app to work over mobile connections, I was ecstatic. As someone who is deaf, I could now use this one-touch, always-on video chat app to communicate with friends and family in my natural language: American Sign Language (ASL).
But then I found out that AT&T will block mobile FaceTime unless customers sign up for an expensive unlimited voice plan. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of having to pay this AT&T “deaf tax” just to use the mobile data I’m already paying for.
It’s disappointing that AT&T is standing in the way of innovation that addresses the needs of its deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Sometimes it takes a while (and some prodding) for technology and technology companies to catch up to and embrace accessibility. In this case the technology is there, but it’s AT&T that’s throwing up the barrier.