Consent Decree Process – Camels Push into the Tent

by Mike Wendy on March 28, 2011

Recently, staunch anti-network provider lobbying group, Public Knowledge, stated that no conditions could make the AT&T T-Mobile acquisition look good for consumers.  None.  Needless to say, they’re vehemently against the proposed union.

Their hardline news is good, I guess, in that – if we take them at their word – there will now be one fewer hand being held out during the consent decree / approval process, which will continue for the next year or so.

Had they wanted conditions – which they say they do not – they would likely look a little likes these (taken from a recent FCC filing they presented to the agency on a similar matter):

  • The Commission should require AT&T to adhere to the open Internet requirements adopted by the Commission for fixed broadband networks for all of its future LTE services, and the Commission should require such agreement as a condition of approval of the application.
  • AT&T must agree to open platform requirements matching those already binding Verizon Wireless in its offering of LTE service in the 700 MHz band.
  • To protect direct competitors the Commission should impose conditions requiring AT&T to offer
    • Data roaming to all competitors on reasonable terms and conditions;
    • To promote interoperability in band classes in 700 MHz spectrum to increase the ability of competitors to deploy advanced devices;
    • To refrain from entering into exclusive deals for devices;
    • To refrain from trapping subscribers with punitive early termination fees not directly traceable to up front subsidies;
    • To offer special access and other backhaul services to competitors on reasonable terms and conditions;
    • And to phase out its receipt of funds from the Universal Service Fund’s High Cost program.

Funny how Public Knowledge continually argues that their work isn’t the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.  Quite frankly, though, I’m not sure what the above is if it isn’t one of their camels pushing its way in.  Oh, well.

“No conditions” has a strange way of becoming a laundry list in this exceedingly fluid (er, lucrative) government-sanctioned extortion process that AT&T and the marketplace must now pass through.

Keep an eye on the ex partes!  That’s where the camels are.

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