AT&T Uses U-Verse as FCC Bargaining Chip

As Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski grapples with a decision on whether or not to reclassify broadband service in order to wield influence over it, AT&T is playing hardball by threatening to cut back on its U-Verse spending in light of additional government authority.

U-Verse is an AT&T IPTV service that offers high-speed Internet, phone and television programming and counts 2.3 million current subscribers. It is currently available to 24 million homes, a number expected to reach 30 million by the end of 2011. AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told the Wall Street Journal however, that FCC reclassifying of broadband from Title 1 to Title 2 would mean, “…we have to re-evaluate whether we put shovels in the ground.”

Ars Technica referenced an AT&T 2009 annual report in which the company stated it had decreased spending in U-Verse in the past year due to “the upgrades to our existing network become more mature.”

A Free Press spokesperson called AT&T out, stating, “AT&T has already slowed down U-verse deployment under the current Title I regime, so to blame the FCC for the company’s own investment decisions is simply disingenuous.”

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