No compromise as AT&T snakes more perks into California copper killer bill

18 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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No mistaking when a copper head responds.

AT&T isn’t interested in third party improvements to the copper retirement bill it wrote and assemblyman Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley) is guiding through the California legislature. In fact, AT&T and Low want to make sure there’s no misunderstanding about assembly bill 2395’s real intentions.

An amended version was posted Monday night. It includes meaningless cosmetic changes – requiring 60 days notice to consumers before turning off service instead of 30, for example – to give the impression that AT&T is responding to growing protests about the bill.

But then AT&T added this little gem, so there’s no confusion about what it expects to get from the California legislature…

The [California Public Utilities Commission’s] duty to conduct a confirmation process [to verify alternative service is available] is pursuant to its jurisdiction over legacy service and does not grant the commission jurisdiction or control over an alternative service.

Translation: if the cell phone we give a customer can dial 911, then it’s adios CPUC and all those tiresome anti-monopoly rules. AT&T can charge whatever it wants for cell service and it doesn’t have to offer broadband at all.

AB 2395 gives AT&T a blank check to run its business as it pleases in the rural and inner city markets where it’s the only viable telecoms option. It should be able to transition from legacy analog technology to a digital Internet protocol platform in an orderly way, but that’s only one of the three presents under the AB 2395 tree.

Removing all regulatory checks on AT&T’s monopoly behavior while at the same time allowing it to strengthen that grip by replacing copper lines, which it must share, with wireless facilities, which it doesn’t, will hurt all Californians.