US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked the country’s second largest cellular provider AT&T to explain their position on why they will be delaying the rollout of the expansion plan of fiber-optic for high-speed Internet.
AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson has earlier this week said that his company will be holding several investment plans nationwide, mainly the fiber upgrade plan, until the issues pertaining to the net neutrality are not resolved by the government at the earliest.
Speaking over the issue at an investor conference on Wednesday, Stephenson said, “It’s prudent to pause. We want to make sure we have line of sight on this process and where these rules could land, and then re-evaluate.”
The remarks by Stephenson arrived on Wednesday, i.e. just two days, after President Barack Obama supported the proposal of bringing broadband service providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This would have imposed the federal commission with more control to regulate ISPs as it would do with the public utility firms.
Stephenson’s response also represents the first business move taken by any Internet service provider (ISP) in response to the President’s unexpected proposal to the FCC.
Obama’s proposal to the FCC brought a wave of response from the broadband companies, such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, who warned that the stricter regulation may curtail their investment plans. The consumer advocacy groups welcomed the proposal by the President, saying this would only ensure that the purpose of Net neutrality is served, i.e. all Web traffic is treated equally.
The FCC has sent a letter, which was signed by Jamillia Ferris, to AT&T in response to the revelation of its plans to halt fiber optic expansion.
In the letter, the federal regulator has sought the details and documentation on which projects will be halted.
In addition, the FCC has asked whether AT&T’s investment model shows that the fiber network deployment is unprofitable or if the firm is expecting it to turn unprofitable after buying DirecTV.