FCC squeezes the AT&T GigaWeasel

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Sneak peak at AT&T’s response.

The FCC slapped back at AT&T on Friday, demanding it turn over information describing exactly what it means when it says it’s going to build fiber to 2 million more homes if its deal to buy DirecTv is approved, but will otherwise stop upgrading systems while the FCC decides whether to regulate broadband as a common carrier service.

That was the gist of comments made on Wednesday by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson (h/t to Fred Pilot at Eldo Telecom for the heads up). Today, the FCC sent – and published – a letter to AT&T that gives the company a week to turn over…

Data regarding the Company’s current plans for fiber deployment, specifically: (1) the current number of households to which fiber is deployed and the breakdown by technology (i.e., FTTP or FTTN) and geographic area of deployment; (2) the total number of households to which the Company planned to deploy fiber prior to the Company’s decision to limit deployment to the 2 million households and the breakdown by technology and geographic area of deployment; and (3) the total number of households to which the Company currently plans to deploy fiber, including the 2 million households, and the breakdown by technology and geographic area of deployment…

The distinction between FTTP and FTTN (fiber to the premise versus fiber to the node) is important. Although AT&T has talked about building FTTP, there’s good reason to think they really intend to just do FTTN builds in most cases.

If AT&T actually puts anything interesting in its response, expect the juicy nuggets to be kept from public view. But since the FCC is asking for the information in the context of reviewing the DirecTv deal, AT&T will have little room to spin its GigaWeasel marketing language into a legal filing. It’ll either have to appeal Friday’s demand or comply with a high degree of truth and clarity. Which will give the FCC, if not the public, a way to either debunk AT&T’s threat now or hold it to performance standards later.