AT&T has been reciting a well-rehearsed message lately: that century-old, monopoly-era rules guaranteeing phone service to all Americans are irrelevant in the age of the Internet. The company petitioned the Federal Communications Commission in late 2011 to plan for the retirement of traditional phone networks and to eliminate “conventional public-utility style regulation” of our future, all-Internet Protocol networks. The FCC isn’t moving as fast as AT&T and its industry partners want, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is slowing things down by blocking the nomination of incoming FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler over a campaign finance disclosure policy question. Still, the Energy & Commerce Committee in the US House of Representatives examined the issue of monopoly-era regulations yesterday in a hearing titled “The Evolution of Wired Communications Networks.” The arguments against Congress caving to AT&T are explained in great depth in testimony by Harold Feld, senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. Feld identifies five “fundamental values” that define our communications network and why those values could be at risk if proper regulations aren’t in place when the traditional public switched telephone network is retired. “This is not AT&T’s transition,” Feld wrote. “This is the transition of the phone system of the United… Read full this story
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