Decisions this week on key California broadband bills

23 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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It all comes down to the wire.

With deadlines looming this week and next, broadband-related bills are queued up in Sacramento, awaiting decisions. The committee to watch is the assembly appropriations committee, which has to vote on a constitutional amendment to disband the California Public Utilities Commission and on AT&T’s attempt to get out of the rural wireline broadband and phone business.

AT&T’s copper killer bill – assembly bill 2395 – is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, while the CPUC measure – assembly constitutional amendment 11 – is sitting in a stack of bills that might or might not come to a vote.… More

Bad Verizon data led to Frontier's customer call tsunami, legislators told

19 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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The problems Frontier Communications had as it took over ownership and operating control of wireline phone systems belonging to Verizon were chewed over in a California assembly committee hearing yesterday. Melinda White, president of Frontier’s west region, told committee members that the service outages experienced by some customers were primarily due to three causes:

  • Corrupt data in the customer records imported from Verizon’s system.
  • Records that said some customers’ equipment had one serial number when in fact it had another.

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.… More

Five ideas to allow AT&T a workable wireline exit

17 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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The Central Coast Broadband Consortium offered five suggestions for turning assembly bill 2395 into legitimate public policy, in a letter sent to the bill’s author, assemblyman Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley) yesterday. AB 2395 was actually written by AT&T and would allow it to pull out copper wireline networks in rural areas of California and replace them with wireless service.

Full disclosure: I drafted the letter, but it was reviewed by consortia members, who represent local governments, private companies and other interested organisations in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.… More

California lawmakers need sharper thinking, reality check on telecoms policy

16 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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Not everyone is 99 and 44/100% pure.

No one expected zero problems when Frontier took over Verizon’s telephone systems in California last month. At least no one who understands that big telecommunications companies are complicated and not particularly predictable. It’s a lesson that California lawmakers should take to heart, as they consider allowing AT&T to replace wireline service with cell phones at will.

Frontier added about two million customers to its existing 200,000 subscriber base in California, scattered across 150 telephone exchanges that range from the best infrastructure in the state – FiOS-brand fiber to the home – to the worst.… More

AT&T plan to scrap copper networks will widen digital divide, say rural reps

10 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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AT&T’s attempt to force a bill through the California legislature that would allow it to, among other things, replace low priced, low margin wireline systems with more lucrative wireless service continues to draw fire from rural interests. The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) – a group comprised of supervisors from 35 rural counties – is urging its members to oppose assembly bill 2395, a proposed law written by AT&T and carried by assemblyman Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley).… More

El Dorado was the county of gold, now it struggles to keep AT&T's copper

6 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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Putting it in, or taking it out?

Rural counties in California are lining up against a plan to allow AT&T to replace rural and inner city wireline networks with wireless service. The board of supervisors in El Dorado County voted 4 to 1 on Tuesday to send a formal letter opposing assembly bill 2395 to its author Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley) and members of the appropriations committee, which are next in line to say yes or no to it, likely later this month.… More

AT&T releases copper fog over California

4 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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Opposition is growing to AT&T’s attempt to rewrite California law so it can pull out its wireline networks in rural and inner city communities, and use wireless networks to provide broadband and phone service instead. In response, AT&T is pushing misleading and lawyerly talking points to elected officials in rural counties and to non-profit groups in urban areas.

If you examine the claims made in the documents submitted by AT&T into the public record (see links below), each one is arguably true when read in isolation.… More

AT&T offers $10 service to low income homes lucky enough to have wireline service

27 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Oops. There goes the $10 a month service.

AT&T is rolling out its low cost Internet access program for low income households. It’s one of the conditions attached to the FCC’s approval of AT&T’s purchase of DirecTv last year.

It only applies to homes where Internet access service “is delivered to a fixed location over a physical wire or cable“. In other words, the wireless service AT&T wants to use to replace wireline service in rural and inner city California isn’t eligible.… More

The week AT&T, cable lobbyists ran up the score in Sacramento

25 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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It could have been a winning week (or two) for broadband infrastructure advocates in the California capitol, but instead last week turned into a victory march for AT&T and cable lobbyists as they fought to further entrench the cosy monopoly/duopoly conditions that underpin their business models. I’ve been blogging more or less on a play by play basis, but I think it’d be helpful to try to pull it briefly together.

It comes down to four key assembly bills, all of which landed in the assembly utilities and commerce committee over the past couple of weeks:

AB 1758 – an effort by Santa Cruz democrat Mark Stone to raise California’s broadband standard to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds, and put $350 million into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) for infrastructure upgrade subsidies and a variety of other programs.… More