Mobile carriers not convincing key California assemblyman

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,

Present company not included.

“I know a whole lotta dumb people with smart devices,” said Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles assemblyman and chair of the California assembly’s utilities and commerce committee. He’s a member of the California Broadband Council, which met today in Sacramento. The reason people have $500 smart phones, he said, is because telephone companies “practically give them away and lock them into a long term contract.”

Bradford takes issue with the way telephone companies are enthusiastically – and expensively – building out mobile networks in California and signing up customers, while at the same time letting wired service languish.

That’s a big motivator behind his push to direct California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) money away from traditional network infrastructure construction and toward consumer equipment and support, particularly in urban public housing projects. He introduced assembly bill 1299 earlier this year to make that possible. Another bill, senate bill 740, is also under consideration. It would add $100 million to the CASF kitty.

AT&T, the primary wireline telephone company and a major mobile carrier in California, didn’t do itself any favors when it sent a lobbyist stuffed with talking points to Bradford’s committee hearing on Monday. The normally engaged assemblyman sank further and further back in his chair as the AT&T lobbyist droned on. Finally, he had enough.

“I want to caution our friends in telecommunications,” he warned. “You can’t do homework, you can’t apply for a job, you can’t apply for college using a mobile device. At some point you have to sit in front of a computer and get on the Internet.”