LA legislator is key player for California telecoms policy

24 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Hardball, fast ball or screw ball?

Four consequential broadband bills approached a key committee in the California assembly over the past couple of weeks, with permissive regulations for incumbents making first base on a walk, and subsidies and rules that favor competitors striking out.

Mike Gatto, a democrat from Los Angeles and the chairman of the utilities and commerce committee, was on the pitching mound for all four bills. He’s the driving force behind a push to put a simple thumbs up or thumbs down vote on the future of the California Public Utilities Commission onto the November ballot, and the gatekeeper who waved through AT&T’s bid to end rural wireline service, while stopping a plan to re-energise broadband infrastructure subsidies by adding money and raising the state’s minimum standard to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds (and, it should be said, adding money to several non-infrastructure programs as well).… More

Bait and switch for California bill to allow AT&T's rural abandonment

22 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Not the result he was expecting.

No real changes were made in to a proposed new law that would allow AT&T to pull out its wireline systems in rural and inner city communities in California, despite promises to the contrary.

The new text of assembly bill 2395 is now available, and it’s nothing like the way it was characterised by AT&T and its legislative cheering section during an assembly utilities and commerce committee hearing last week.… More

AT&T, cable lobbyists gut California broadband subsidies

20 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Broadband infrastructure subsidies are off the table in Sacramento, thanks to a coordinated campaign by AT&T staff lobbyists and the cable industry’s political front organisation, the California Cable and Telecommunications Association (CCTA). Assembly bill 1758 was pulled by its author, assemblyman Mark Stone (D – Santa Cruz) after it became clear that the California assembly’s utilities and commerce committee was going to spike it at its meeting this afternoon.

Originally, AB 1758 would have put $150 million into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) broadband construction subsidy account, and another $200 million in a range of broadband-related programs, including service for hospitals, facilities in public housing, digital literacy and marketing efforts and regional consortia.… More

Ayes and noes posted for AT&T's California rural exit bill

18 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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You’re wireless now.

The official vote tally for assembly bill 2395 has been posted. That’s the bill that would let AT&T shut down its wireline networks in rural and inner city areas and replace them with lower capacity but higher cost and higher profit margin wireless systems. It was clear from listening to the audio feed that a big, bipartisan majority of the California assembly utilities and commerce committee favored the bill, but the rules allow votes to be silently added to the roll, or even changed, before the meeting officially ends.… More

AT&T says don't worry about copper lines, California legislators say OK

14 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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History says otherwise.

AT&T is one step closer to getting blanket permission to yank its copper networks in rural California, and replace them with wireless service as it pleases. On a lopsided vote, the assembly utilities and commerce committee voted to move assembly bill 2395 along toward a full floor vote. Written by AT&T and carried on its behalf by assemblyman Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley), the bill would allow AT&T to replace legacy analog voice telephone networks and service with any functional equivalent, so long as it’s capable of calling 911.… More

Kill AT&T's California wireline exit bill, don't bother tinkering with it

11 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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AT&T’s ongoing attempt to re-write California law so that it can replace rural wireline broadband and regulated telephone systems with unregulated wireless service is up for a vote in a key assembly committee on Wednesday. It’s opposed by the California Public Utilities Commission, among others. During the CPUC’s debate, commissioner Mike Florio said spike assembly bill 2395, don’t bother rewriting it…

In my legislative work over the years, there was an adage that I learned that you don’t amend a bad bill.


AT&T's bid to nix wireline obligations opposed by CPUC

8 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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End of the line?

AT&T wants to end wireline service where ever it pleases and that drew fire yesterday from the California Public Utilities Commission. But not the whole commission. By a 3 to 2 vote, the CPUC officially went on record as opposing assembly bill 2395, written by AT&T and carried by Silicon Valley assemblyman Evan Low.

The bill itself is dressed up with talk about improving technology and reducing pollution but, as commissioner Catherine Sandoval explained, it gives AT&T blanket permission to do whatever it wants, however it wants, without subjecting itself to inconvenient regulations or bothersome competitors…

This bill would seem to allow a carrier of last resort to keep all the poles, keep all the conduits, keep all the rights of ways, keep the wires, keep the buildings, keep all the facilities that they want, offer none of the services – no basic services – and have no interconnection obligations.


CPUC votes 3 to 2 to oppose AT&T bid to end wireline service

7 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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By a split vote, the California Public Utilities Commission has gone on record opposing a bill going through the state legislature – assembly bill 2395 – that would allow AT&T to effectively yank out its wireline network at will, and replace it with wireless service. Three commissioners – Catherine Sandoval, Mike Florio and Carla Peterman – supported a staff recommendation to oppose the bill. President Michael Picker, backed by commissioner Liane Randolph, wanted to take a neutral position on the AT&T sponsored bill, which comes up for a hearing next week.

AT&T writes its own permission slip to end California wireline service

23 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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Cheaper to chop than fix.

AT&T wants to rip out its copper phone networks in California and sell wireless voice and broadband service instead. Its lobbyists in Sacramento wrote a bill – assembly bill 2395 – that would give AT&T blanket permission to shut down regulated plain old telephone service and replace it with whatever kind of unregulated technology it deems most profitable.

For customers lucky enough to live in a high potential area – someplace dense enough with customers and cash to make wireline service sufficiently lucrative – that’ll mean voice over Internet protocol phone service running on one flavor or another of DSL broadband.… More