Feed on

King Ed’s ATT and the Republican members of the FCC pulled a New Year’s eve weekend sneak of awesome proportions. Commissioners Copps and Adelstein withdrew their opposition and, at nearly 5pm on the last bussiness day of the year, the FCC announced that the acquisition of BellSouth was approved by a vote of 4 to 0.

In voting to concur Copps and Adelstein thought they were concurring with FCC acceptance of the conditions that ATT agreed to in its 19 page legal brief posted by the FCC. Exactly what Martin and Tate told them before they handed in their written concurrence and left town is unknown. Copps’ statement makes very clear that he signed on because of a guarantee of network neutrality.

Adelstein was quite clear in why he agreed: “Most significantly, the Commission takes a long-awaited and momentous step in this Order byrequiring the applicants to maintain neutral network and neutral routing in the provision of their wireline broadband Internet access service. This provision was critical for my support of this merger and will serve as a “5th principle”. . .

Copps and Adelstein were reported to have left town early. A few minutes before 5pm as the FCC closed its doors for the year notive of the approval went up on the web site. The joint statement of Kevin Martin and Deborah Tate makes for amazing reading.

The republicans essentially said they thought the compromise to which their democratic colleagues had agreed was unreasonable and they would not enforce it!!

To wit:

QUOTE: we have reservations about some of the voluntary commitments offered by the merger
applicants. . . .. We find the imposition of some of the conditions, however, to be unnecessary. And, some of the conditions impose burdens that have nothing to do with the transaction, are discriminatory, and run contrary to Commission policy and precedent.”

SNIP a paragraph that says they see no need for net neutrality because it is not warranted by market conditions and concludes: “we specifically do not support those aspects of the conditions and will oppose such policies going forward.”

Next we come to this brazen prose.

“Importantly, however, while the Democrat Commissioners may have extracted concessions from AT&T, they in no way bind future Commission action. Specifically, a minority of Commissioners cannot alter Commission precedent or bind future Commission decisions, policies, actions, or rules. Thus, to the extent that AT&T has, as a business matter, determined to take certain actions, they are allowed to do so. There are certain conditions, however, that are not self-effectuating or cannot be accomplished by AT&T alone. To the extent Commission action is required to effectuate these conditions as a policy going forward,

we specifically do not support those aspects of the conditions and will oppose such policies going forward.”

Note the repeat of the mantra.

The statement goes on to conclude that if ATT wants to make voluntary concessions, the comission cannot stop it from doing so. It adds however that the commission thinks ATT would be foolish to do this and informs ATT that the commission not only would enforce compliance but that it would prefer it not comply.

Martin and Taste’s ideology shines through they they object to “special access condition #6, AT&Tis required to file an amended tariff which reduces its wholesale special access prices for DS1, DS3,
and Ethernet services to some but not all companies.” A few sentences later they deliver the following insult to their Democratic colleagues: “In effect, therefore, the Democrat Commissioners
want to price regulatenot only AT&T but also Verizon and Qwest. Accordingly, not only are the conditions unnecessary as there is no finding of public interest harm, but the conditions attempt to impose requirements on companies that are not even parties to the merger.”

They conclude by chastizing ATT for agreeing to something that is discriminatory and state that: “As such, even when AT&T attempts to fulfill its merger commitment by filing its tariffs, the Commission is not bound to approve these tariffs. Indeed, consistent with the Commission’s prior policies and precedent, we would oppose such discriminatory practices and would encourage such tariffs to be rejected.

These Bush appointees - ideologues all the way - are saying to we the people - “let them eat cake.”

One of the most meaningful things that the new democratically controlled Congress can do is say in the new year we are madder than hell and not going to take it anymore. The arrogance of Martin and Tate make clear why a national telecommunications broadband policy is one of the most important goals for this country to pursue.

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