AT&T Wants 100% Broadband Access by 2014

Urges FCC to aim for "universal, open, private and safe" Internet driven by private investment

AT&T called on the FCC Monday to aim for 100% broadband access and adoption by February 2014--four years after the commission's national broadband rollout plan must be submitted to Congress--saying it wanted an Internet that was "universal, open, private and safe."

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."