On Friday, the FCC took AT&T’s show of displeasure toward President Obama’s net neutrality stance and turned it around. After AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson publicly pulled the emergency brake on its fiber network rollouts, the FCC wants to know just what it is they are pausing.
AT&T has Austin of course, but the promise had been to add another 10 or so unnamed metro areas to the queue. With the DirecTV acquisition, they promised to hook up 2M customers with FTTH. However, those vague plans have yet to actually materialize in the form of actual fiber. Some see AT&T’s public fiber rollout plans as more of a defensive PR move against Google and other potential competition than actual interest in an FTTH expansion.
Thus, the FCC responded to AT&T’s public suspension of such projects by asking for information on just what the telecommunication giant has in the oven that it can pause. And they want the details in a week. Will AT&T back down? Or is a hurricane brewing on the beltway? There’s certainly enough hot air around at the moment to power one.
In this case, I think AT&T’s leadership leaped without looking and will be seeking a way to cut its losses. It may not be scientific, but Ramblings’ Friday poll reaches telecom industry people and even it has tilted in favor of Obama’s net neutrality stance (at least so far). Notably, Tom Wheeler’s supposed hybrid plan hasn’t gotten anybody excited either.
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