Sean Buckley

AT&T says Google Fiber’s bad info delayed pole attachments

AT&T claims that Google Fiber’s call for a one-touch-make-ready ordinance to streamline the process of stringing fiber on poles in Nashville (TN) could compromise the telecommunication company's own facilities because Google often provides incorrect information about where it is looking to attach its facilities. A proposed ordinance would allow Google Fiber to move existing Comcast and AT&T cables itself on utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Services (NES). This would circumvent the old make-ready rules that require Google Fiber to notify NES of the need to make space for its cables, only to have NES contact AT&T and Comcast to execute the actual work. Instead of waiting to see when AT&T’s union workforce is available, Google Fiber would be able to choose its own contractors.

Google Fiber has established a nationwide contract with AT&T to attach its facilities to the poles the telco owns. However, AT&T looks at each attachment process city by city. Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee, said that while it is not concerned about Google Fiber’s ability to find experienced contractors to conduct the make ready work, the relatively new service provider continues to submit incorrect information about the poles. “Let’s assume they hire the very best contractors, if they give those engineering plans that we get in our application to that contractor I know that’s work that’s going to be done all over again,” Phillips said. “I am seeing many of those that have errors in them that would be corrected so it’s really not so much that they would hire bad contractors but that they might give them bad instructions.” After filing an application, AT&T does a field survey to make sure the pole matches the engineering drawings they have done.

Google Fiber’s struggles highlight value in using existing dark, shared fiber assets

Google Fiber's move to delay certain fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) builds may have sparked concern from industry pundits that the service provider is turning its back on fiber, but these moves actually allow it to consider a new strategy: sharing dark fiber networks. Besides using millimeter wave wireless as a way to scale its network reach, leasing dark fiber from a host of other providers or even local municipalities that have laid fiber for their own internal use, is a palatable solution to scale its network.

“Given the large capital requirements and above outlined challenges of fiber network builds, we believe that companies are increasingly utilizing shared dark fiber as a way to achieve better economics on planned expansions,” said Barlays in a research report. Google Fiber indicated its desire to seek out alternatives after a recent report emerged that the service provider’s planned buildouts of 1 Gbps in San Jose (CA), Mountain View (CA), and Palo Alto (CA) are on hold. While leveraging millimeter wireless is a less expensive alternative to wireline internet service, the service provider can also tap into a bevy of dark fiber networks being built in a number of US cities. Google Fiber purchased Webpass, a competitive provider that provides Ethernet-based services to businesses using a mix of fiber and broadband wireless technologies to deliver broadband services to businesses and residential customers.

AT&T to offer $10 broadband service to low income families in Illinois

[SOURCE: Fierce, AUTHOR: Sean Buckley]
AT&T is going to start offering broadband internet services for $10 a month to eligible low-income families in Illinois through its "Access from AT&T" in areas where the telco offers wireline internet service. Eligible customers will also be able to get Wi-Fi services to support their laptop or smart phone inside the home. Additionally, participating customers will be able to get access to thousands of AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots outside of the home. The $10 offer, which will be available through April of 2020, is a condition of AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV in 2015. Participants won’t have to pay extra for service installation or activation.

Frontier to extend 50 Mbps speeds to 2 million homes over the next year

Frontier Communications suffered a setback in signing new broadband subscribers during the second quarter due to issues with integrating the Verizon properties it purchased in April, but the company could turn things around with a plan to extend higher speeds over its existing copper network to more of its customer base. CEO Dan McCarthy said that Frontier plans to upgrade its copper plant to provide up to 50 Mbps-capable or higher speeds to additional homes. This included its existing markets and those it entered through the Verizon acquisition where FiOS is not currently available. Specifically, Frontier will upgrade customers from 7 Mbps to 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps.

Being a copper-based technology, the availability of specific speeds will depend on the condition of the copper loops and the distance between where customers reside and the nearest central office (CO) or remote terminal (RT) cabinet. “We have also continued to execute our broadband network upgrade program in both existing and new markets,” McCarthy said “This program will result in the expansion of 50 megabits or higher broadband capability to 2 million homes over the next year.” By extending higher speed services outside of the FiOS FTTH market, McCarthy said that it will be able to more effectively compete with cable providers like Charter Communications and Comcast -- two cable companies that can already deliver speeds of 100 Mbps and above.

AT&T raises usage allowance on U-verse, GigaPower fiber broadband

AT&T has taken another step to sate the appetite of its broadband customers by once again increasing the monthly usage allowances for its U-verse and GigaPower broadband plans. U-verse customers that are on plans with speed tiers up to and including 300 Mps will see a monthly allowance of 1 terabyte (TB) of data.

What this means is that for customers that subscribe to Internet speeds below 12 Mbps, the new plans triple their current amount of data. Likewise, customers with internet speeds ranging from 12 Mbps to 75 Mbps will see their current allowance double. Meanwhile, AT&T GigaPower customers will receive unlimited home Internet data. As an added bonus, U-verse internet and DIRECTV or U-verse can pay for services on a single bill. Customers that subscribe to the 1 Gbps speed tier on the AT&T GigaPower network will automatically get unlimited home internet data at no additional charge. AT&T customers can also sign up for unlimited home internet data for $30 more a month.

Frontier sued for alleged misuse of $40.5 Million in federal broadband stimulus funds

Frontier's woes in West Virginia have come to a new head as competitive provider Citynet is suing Frontier over abusing $40.5 million in federal stimulus funds to build a broadband network that would lock out competitors in the state. In the lawsuit, Citynet accuses Frontier of double-billing, claiming that it falsified records and charged excess fees not authorized by the federal grant that funded the telco's broadband expansion project it completed in 2014.

West Virginia Homeland Security Chief Jimmy Gianato, Chief Technology Officer Gale Given, and former Commerce Secretary Kelly Goes have also been named in the suit. Citynet claims these three state leaders willingly participated in a scheme to abuse government funds. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2014 and Citynet recently updated the suit when the U.S. Justice Department said it would not weigh in. At issue is a $126.3 million federal stimulus broadband grant awarded to West Virginia in 2010. This grant was aimed at providing broadband internet to 1,064 public facilities -- including a mix of schools, libraries, health clinics, courthouses and state police detachments.

AT&T wants to end private line voice service in Alabama and Florida

AT&T has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to discontinue its BellSouth Analog Voice Grade Private Line services in Carbon Hill (AL) and in Kings Point (FL) a -- two markets where the telecommunication company has been conducting IP transition tests. After AT&T gets necessary regulatory approval, the service provider said in an FCC filing that it would stop offering the service in its IP-Trial wire centers on or after October 14, 2016.

The BellSouth Analog Voice Grade Private Line services are legacy TDM-based services that provide an analog channel for the transmission of asynchronous, or synchronous serial data at rates of up to 19.2, 50.0, or 230.4 Kbps. AT&T also offers optional arrangements for this service at 18.74 or 40.08 Kbps. In wording that is similar to other requests AT&T has made to discontinue services in its BellSouth territory, the provider said in its filing that "The public convenience and necessity will not be adversely affected by the discontinuance of this service because there is no demand in the Trial Wire Centers for this service, and AT&T has other products available to serve low capacity data needs." AT&T currently offers a number of IP-based replacement services that provide much higher transmission speeds over its copper and fiber-based infrastructure. Among the other choices customers have in these markets are AT&T Switched Ethernet 2.0 Mbps (ASE 2.0) service and AT&T Business DSL Internet service (IPDSL) services.

CenturyLink's copper replacement plan could spur protests by consumers, CLECs

CenturyLink is replacing its aging copper-based wireline facilities in seven cities, potentially setting itself up for a wave of protests from consumers and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) that use existing facilities -- similar to those faced by Verizon and AT&T as they transition their legacy networks.
Two of the states where it will replace copper with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) facilities are Minnesota and Washington, which are part of a broader initiative CenturyLink has taken to support 1 Gbps speed services for residential and business customers. In 2014, CenturyLink announced that it will extend its FTTH service footprint to residential and business customers in select locations in 16 cities. As part of replacement strategy, CenturyLink is deploying a FTTH overlay architecture that the company says will enable it to support more of its customers transitioning to broadband services. "Growth in the area requires CenturyLink to install Fiber Based Access to its customer," CenturyLink said in a Federal Communications Commission filing. "The copper loops will be replaced by fiber loops as customers migrate to higher speed Broadband Internet Access (BIA)." CenturyLink added that unbundled copper loops "may not be available to an individual address after the planned completion/retirement date." Outside of Minnesota and Washington, CenturyLink filed separate copper retirement notices in six other states: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

AT&T, CWA begin negotiations covering 2K Internet workers

AT&T and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have begun the negotiation process for a new contract covering 2,000 of the telecommunication's Internet workers nationwide.

Lisa Bolton, VP of CWA telecommunications and technologies in Bedminster (NJ) said that similar to other contract negotiations, workers covered under the contract are looking for a contract that provides job security, affordable health care and retirement benefits. "AT&T is a very successful company, leading the telecommunications and video industry. Our members have helped build that success," Bolton said. "It's our turn, and it's time for AT&T to deliver a contract that gives workers at NIC our fair share." AT&T Internet is just one of several contracts the telecommunication company is in the process of negotiating with the CWA.

Comcast, Level 3's mega-mergers could shake up the Ethernet market, says VSG

Comcast's and Level 3's pending acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and TW Telecom could have a major effect on the status of the top US Ethernet providers, reports Vertical Systems Group in its Mid-2014 US Carrier Ethernet Leaderboard.

When the deals are completed, these service providers will immediately enhance their Ethernet footprints and service sets.