Free Press: AT&T Plan Would End All Oversight of Communications Networks

Contact Info: 

Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 ext. 35

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, Free Press filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission concerning AT&T's request for the FCC to facilitate the transition to all-IP networks. If granted under the FCC's current broadband classification framework, AT&T’s request would result in the complete removal of all regulatory oversight of our nation's critical telecommunications infrastructure.

Free Press urged the Commission to first address the lingering questions about FCC authority over broadband transmission networks. This deliberation must take place before the agency even considers taking any action that would lead to the removal of all the consumer protections and competitive safeguards Congress enacted for our nation's communications markets.

To read the comments go to: http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/FP_Petition_to_Launch_Comments.pdf.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

"The communications infrastructure that connects us to each other is a critical utility for all Americans. We welcome a dialogue about the appropriate regulatory approach a 21st-century network needs, but we must recognize that telecommunications regulations and the law they are based on exist to ensure interconnection, promote universal service and protect consumer rights.

"But make no mistake: AT&T doesn’t want a discussion about a reasonable regulatory framework. Rather, AT&T is asking the FCC to end all oversight of our nation's communications markets. The company is trying to exploit an FCC-created legal loophole: AT&T previously convinced the Commission that the mere use of IP places a service outside the laws governing two-way communications networks. Thus the otherwise unremarkable progression of telecom technology from circuit to packet switching will now, under the FCC's current framework, result in total deregulation.

"The Commission must confront the lingering and politically difficult questions concerning its authority over next-generation networks. If it doesn’t, American consumers will face increasing prices, accountability-free service disruptions, the loss of reliable emergency communications, second-class services in rural areas, declining competition and the end of the open Internet."

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