Today Public Knowledge sent letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon as the first step in the process of filing open internet complaints against each of them at the FCC. The letters address violations of the FCC’s transparency requirements, which are the only part of the open internet rules that survived court challenge.
Verizon wants to
replace copper landlines destroyed by Hurricane Sandy with a new fixed wireless
service called Voice Link. But should victims of natural disaster be guinea
pigs when fundamental basic services are at stake? Especially when it means
losing access to broadband?
Ever since Hurricane Sandy destroyed huge pieces of its
landline network last October, Verizon made
it clear it did not want to rebuild its traditional copper network. Most
folks assumed that meant replacing damaged copper with fiber. While some
consumers have grumbled
about being upgraded to a more expensive service, no one doubts fiber to
the home represents a step up – especially on the broadband side.
But what about those communities where Verizon does not want
to spend the money upgrading to FIOS? Turns out, rather than an upgrade to
fiber, these communities will play guinea pig for Verizon’s new, cheaper, more
limited wireless alternative called “Voice Link.”
As regular readers know, I regard the upgrade of the phone
system (aka the "public switched telephone network" or
"PSTN") to an all-IP based network as
a majorly huge deal. As I’ve explained at
length before, this is a huge deal because of a bunch of decisions the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made over the years that have
fragmented our various policies and regulations about phones into a crazy-quilt
of different rules tied sometimes to the technology (IP v. traditional phone (TDM))
and sometimes to the actual medium of transmission (copper v. fiber v. cable v.
Rarely do you see companies double-dare the FCC to back up
their brave talk about promoting competition. That is, however, what AT&T
has just decided to do – with a little help from Verizon. After gobbling a ton
of spectrum last year in a series of
small transactions, AT&T announced earlier this week it would buy up
ATNI, which holds the last shreds of the old Alltel Spectrum. To top this off,
Verizon just announced it has selected the purchaser for the 700 MHz spectrum
it promised to sell off to get permission to buy the SpectrumCo spectrum. And
The FCC released a fairly thorough report on the
widespread 9-1-1 failure that followed the June 2012 “derecho” windstorm. For
those who don’t remember, the derecho differs from most weather events by
coming up almost without warning. According to the report, carriers had
approximately two hours of warning from the time the derecho started in the
Ohio Valley to when it hit the D.C. Metro region.
As a consequence of the damage done by the derecho, Northern
Virginia experienced a massive failure of its 9-1-1 network, leaving over 1
million people with working phones (at least in some places) but no access to
9-1-1. West Virginia experienced
systemic problems as well, as a did a scattering of locations in other states
impacted by the derecho. Verizon maintains the network in Northern Virginia,
while West Virginia is managed by Frontier.