AT&T's Policy Plea Muted by Shutdown
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- TIA 2013: The Future of the Network -- AT&T has invested billions in upgrading its wireless infrastructure and is prepared to spend billions more in becoming a "mobile-led, all-IP cloud, cloud-based company" by 2020, but needs to see policies from regulators that support that level of investment, Lori Lee, senior executive vice president of Home Solutions, said in a keynote address here.
But Lee's message may have echoed back at her.
Lee and other speakers had hoped to be addressing a crowd that included Washington notables, but the shut-down of the federal government had a significant impact on attendance here, and prompted cancellation of multiple speakers, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn.
That left Lee and others preaching to the choir about the importance of adopting regulatory policies that recognize how the industry has changed.
For example, she noted that Skype Ltd. earlier this year hit a company record 70 million simultaneous connections, at a time when AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has 14 million access lines and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has 7 million. That's an indication that any policy focused on access lines is misplaced, Lee indicated, and shows how market power is shifting.
AT&T expects by 2020 to have completed its transformation into a mobile-led, all-IP, cloud-based company, with a network optimized for video and content hosted almost entirely in the cloud and not on devices, said Lee. At that stage of the game, customers stop caring what network they are connected to, as long as their service provider is delivering a seamless, simple, and secure service over a connection that follows them, wherever they go. In addition, "smartphones replace wallets, keys and ID cards; tablets become our mobile workspace; homes anticipate our needs; cars are connected and healthcare is more personalized and affordable," she added.
Lee highlighted the ability to make higher education more accessible and affordable, something that AT&T is doing in partnership with Georgia Tech and Udacity, which together are delivering an online program in computer science that awards an advanced degree for $6,000.
In a presentation clearly intended to show what AT&T can do if it isn't discouraged from continuing to pump billions into its networks and supporting operations and business support systems, Lee also cited benefits for government, farmers, first responders, and others, limited only by the human imagination.
Having policies that encourage investment "is important for our industry's future and critically important for growth of our economy," she concluded.
Her sign-off, though, was a message for everyone, and one, she noted, that every AT&T customer service rep and service technician delivers as well -- a reminder not to text and drive.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading