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AT&T To Seek Business Broadband Deregulation

Posted by iNext - 2006-03-22

AT&T plans to seek relief from regulations on its broadband data services for business clients after U.S. regulators eased rules on another major provider, CEO Ed Whitacre said on Tuesday.

A divided Federal Communications Commission on Monday exempted Verizon Communications from scores of regulations on broadband for business customers, including requirements that it connect to other networks, negotiate deals with competitors, and pay into the Universal Service Fund.


"I think it will be pretty close to what Verizon did," Whitacre said, referring to his plans to file a petition similar to the one by Verizon that sought deregulation. "I'm sure if Verizon has it, we'll get it too."

Whitacre spoke to reporters after addressing a telecommunications conference.

On Monday, the FCC's two Democratic commissioners criticized the agency's decision to free Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. telecommunications carrier, from some regulations involving its lucrative business broadband data service. The two commissioners said it could result in higher prices and fewer choices for customers.

Industry analysts said the FCC decision would likely face court challenges from Verizon's competitors and could pave the way for other dominant local telephone companies such as AT&T and BellSouth to seek similar relief.

In asking the FCC for relief, Verizon offered to continue contributing into the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes communications services for schools, libraries, rural areas and low-income households.

Whitacre said AT&T would likely be willing to do the same. "I'm sure we would, sure," he said.



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