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Friday, June 07, 2013

Steering the discussion

AT&T responded almost instantly to President Obama's speech about the E-Rate.  At first, it looked like just a reiteration of what the administration is saying, which surprised me, because I thought the administration's position is bad for wireless carriers (and to a lesser extent for CLECs).  So I looked closer and I noticed a few ways that AT&T is trying to steer the program:

  • "ensuring every child has access to robust broadband connections in their school":  Note that "child" and "school" is singular, while "connections" is plural.  ("Their" is also plural, but that's just a bad way to avoid the clumsy "his/her" in referring to the singular "child.")  The administration proposal is pretty clear: fiber to the school, wireless LANs inside the school.  AT&T is trying to insert the idea of each kid having a mobile data plan, so they can sell 500 connections into one school.  In fact, they seem to want each child to have multiple connections.
  • " the USF contribution methodology must be updated": In other words, "Hey, make those ISPs kick a little money into the kitty; we telcos are tired of paying for this whole thing."
  • "the very cumbersome rules surrounding the current e-Rate program simply must be streamlined": Let's start with that pesky no-free-cell-phones-(or-netbooks-or-tablets)-for-free-with-your-cell-phone-plan rule.  And hey, let's dump that no-mobile-Internet-access-from-ineligible-locations rule.  Let AT&T give every kid a "free" device that they can use from home, and have the E-Rate pick up most of the tab for it.
Nicely crafted, AT&T.

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