Earlier this week, AT&T announced that they would put their plan to deliver the installation of one gigabit-a-second hyper speed fiber network in 100 cities in the United States on hold. While the initial plan made millions of Americans happy about the new infrastructure and the benefits coming with it, now the same expansion program raises concern. Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Miami now just have to wait to be blessed with high – speed fiber Internet, provided the company resumes its previous plans. But AT&T has to explain itself before the FCC for this decision, as this delay reaches the highest levels of public interest.
AT&T motivated the push back of the Internet super speed fiber program on the grounds of losing money if the FCC strengthens its net neutrality policies. On the one hand, we have the Obama administrations and President Obama himself wanting to expand the FCC’s role in regulating broadband networks. This debate sparked heavy controversy among telecom giants, AT&T included. Last week, a rather upset AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson declared that
“If you can’t bring new products to service at your speed, not the government’s speed, if you can’t change prices at the market speed, not the government’s speed, why would you ever make these investments? So we’re on a pause mode right now.”
What Stephenson didn’t see coming was the FCC’s letter, due to which AT&T has to explain itself and present a heap of documents to motivate the delay of the plans. Keeping in mind that AT&T still needs to obtain the FCC’s approval on the merger with DirectTV, the telecom giant is now put in a difficult position.
They basically need to prove that going on with the installation of the fiber network covering 100 U.S. cities would turn to be unprofitable under Obama’s regulations. However, if they prove this, all conclusions will reflect upon the merger with DirectTV, a deal which has as main goal the wiring of two million homes across the country.
Being between a rock and a hard place is an understatement, but AT&T has to explain itself and comply with the FCC request in one week. While the US Federal Communications Commission is not convinced about AT&T’s math, the company got authorities’ attention. Alex Macgillivray, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer, gave an interview to Washington Post earlier this week. One of the most powerful and awareness – raising statements he made was
“It’s not every day that a business says that they’re not going to do something that’s good for their customers. That’s a strong statement.”
AT&T has to explain itself in front of the FCC and present all the convincing documents. The date to pay attention to is November 21, as the FCC decision most likely will affect not only the population, but also public policies.