Monday, May 18, 2015

AT&T Doesn't Believe Net Neutrality Rules Will Stand

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told news network CNBC he is “fairly confident” the Federal Communications Commission rules on network neutrality will be changed, one way or the other.

AT&T is one of several firms that have filed lawsuits challenging the new rules, in particular the change to common carrier regulation.

Stephenson pointed out that the Commission is just one vote away from reversing the rules (a 3-2 majority now could become a different 3-2 majority in the future), and Congress also is indicating intent to act to change the rules as well.

Because of that view, AT&T is planning capital investments on the assumption the existing rules will be changed.

That could be one reason why, despite the rules, AT&T is moving ahead on gigabit access investments. The other compelling reason is simply that the market context has changed.

When a major competitor such as Comcast commits to pass 21 million locations with gigabit access by the end of the first quarter of 2016, that changes the game. Comcast already expects to be able to sell 2 Gbps services to about 85 percent of those homes.

Google Fiber was a nudge. Comcast’s move is a direct attack.

Here's a transcript of the full interview.

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