AT&T Wants 100% Broadband Access by 2014
Urges FCC to aim for "universal, open, private and safe" Internet driven by private investment
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/8/2009 11:24:00 PM
In comments on the FCC's national broadband plan, AT&T said that private investment should still drive the effort to reach that 100%. It also said that proposals that do not "directly further" those two goals should not be considered, "however well-intentioned."
AT&T says that the FCC must think outside the box, include nontraditional stakeholders, and focus on what end users want rather than dictating what it thinks they should have.
And any regulations must comport with Congress' goal of ubiquitous broadband, which AT&T equates with encouraging private-sector investment.
The company also argues that the FCC should embrace "all platforms" as part of the broadband ecosystem, which means it opposes setting speed thresholds for what qualifies as broadband, though it concedes that the government should "encourage" deployment of the fastest connections for "elite users" who need them.
To get a better sense of what private sector investment is looking for, the company also encourages the FCC to reach out to "Wall Street Bankers and Silicon Valley venture capitalists" to better understand what policies will draw their dollars.
But where the private sector money can't be attracted, it suggests, the government should provide targeted help.
AT&T defined its four-point Internet vision this way: "To realize its full potential for ‘all people of the United States,' the Internet must be universal, in that it must be available and affordable to consumers everywhere. The Internet also must be open, in that the Internet ecosystem must enable consumers to exchange ideas and communicate freely, give them freedom to access the lawful applications and content they want to use, and afford them the ability to choose and assemble packages of services and equipment that meet their needs. The Internet must respect privacy, so that consumers are in control of how, when, and by whom their private information is used. And the Internet must be safe, so that networks and services are protected from harm and consumers are secure when they go online."
The AT&T missive is disingenuous. It purports to want to speed broadband adoption to 100% by 2014 but what it really does is call for the continued foot dragging and business as usual that has characterized their service to rural, un-served and underserved areas. AT&T says that the FCC must think outside the box, include nontraditional stakeholders, and focus on what end users want rather than dictating what it thinks they should have. In reality, AT&T does not think outside the box and focuses on dictating what AT&T thinks end users should have. The time has come for radical change and big telcos are incapable of being change agents.
In the next 10 years consumers will be demanding data rates in excess of 80-100Mbps in a continuous streamâ€¦not in a short burst. Market need and demand for content has been steadily increasing. Cable companies know this and have been working to fill the need with constant improvements. Telcoâ€™s have been using various xDSL versions to catch up. Unfortunately, these are expensive solutions to implement. The result is that rural communities are not receiving benefit because consumers are either too far from the central office or remote terminal or they are too disbursed to gain the effective economies of scale.
Innovative technologies have shown promise as possible solutions (vs. a product) for sometime but Telcos want products already tested and ready to go from a named vendor. Telcos and their associated technology vendors need to get involved with new solutions at an earlier stage but telco demands for only incremental improvements and large amounts of non-recurring engineering costs prior to any decision making locks out the innovative start-up. Private finance will not act without a guaranteed customer for any projects inside the central office. For them, the risk is that the technology works but the phone company doesnâ€™t feel like buying right now and the rural and underserved areas do not offer a lucrative enough market. Reliance on the many forms of xDSL will not solve the phone company need to provide rural, unserved and underserved areas end users with an 100Mbps solution and beyond. xDSL has limitations on the number of subscribers at max data rates in a bundle due to its excessive sensitivity to phase-coherent co-channel interference. FTTH is an outrageously expensive capital investment and cumbersome to transition for rural, unserved and underserved areas.
The most successful technologies can bridge the gap between xDSL and Fiber and postpone radically or eliminate excessively costly physical plant overhauls. The customer need for greater data rate must be served or the infrastructure physical plant will be abandoned. The NTIA-RUS team must consider innovative technologies that would not get further development and deployment without federal funding and are not currently eligible for private financing.
We recommend the following criteria for use in evaluating these innovative technologies for BTOP Grant Awards:
1. It should solve problems that current systems have not been able to solve and the basic technology should have a final U.S. patent.
2. It should fully utilize the current copper plant. The innovative technology should deliver a minimum of 100Mbps at 4000ft, 20Mbps at 10,0000ft, 5Mbps at 21,000ft, and 1.5Mbps at 32,000ft on a single twisted pair for ALL wires in the wire bundle. This should be achievable through service providers using Operation and Maintenance funding (instead of Capital Expenditure funding).
3. It should maximize access for customers in underserved and un-served areas.
4. It should avoid taking fiber to the home.
5. It should avoid spending more money to expand the fiber and coax plants. It should not require major costly infrastructure upgrades that take years to recover. It should be implemented without putting demands on local governments for towers. It should be implemented without needing satellite coverage for uplink.
6. It should be able to expand easily AS DEMANDED BY THE CUSTOMER.
7. It should be able to easily expand to 100Mbps. It should be extensible or expandable for increased user needs in data rate and over time.
8. It should be CHEAP and easy to use and install. It should be easy to implement for end users. It should be easy to understand by installers and users.
9. It should be a radically different way of communicating or a â€œbetterâ€ way? It should be capable of being brought to market with current US company capabilities. It should be capable of being brought to market within 2 years, faster with additional funding.
10. It should exploit existing communications infrastructure.
11. It should coexist with existing broadband signals.
12. It should maximize US based technology developers.
13. It should leverage existing US technology to decrease final deployment time to users to less than 2 years?
14. It should develop a technology base that can be used to sell globally to increase balance of trade in US favor.
Federal funding is needed because all the broadband communications systems put in place commercially are privately funded based solely on profit yield and ease of investment return. This has been the single largest reason why broadband has neglected large segments of the population. All technology development has been done based on incremental modifications to traditional methods and has ignored all others. Commercial service providers are driven by easy harvesting â€œlow hanging fruitâ€.
Federal funds are needed to excite the technology base to activate methods that are not traditional in the current industry which has essentially forsaken the more challenging customer base. No local funding sources have deep enough pockets to make it happen nationally. Private investment is only interested in large returns for low risk investments.
B.W â€œJessâ€ Posey
TelePulse Technologies Corporation
Jess Posey - 6/9/2009 11:51:00 PM EDT
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