Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tariff or Wholesale or What

Over on the FISPA list, there has been a heated debate about Retail versus Wholesale and what they mean. Really, the understanding has to go back to the contract, since all of telecom is basically contract law.

Metro Ethernet is not a tariff item any longer. The service is listed in AT&T INTERSTATE ACCESS GUIDEBOOK. That is NOT a tariff and can be changed at will.

DSL was de-regulated or un-regulated in 2005 following the Brand-X Supreme Court decision. To this day, wholesale DSL transport service is available through a commercial contract. Remember the GATC?

Billing, repair and installation problems aside, getting the order into the system takes work. There are too many hurdles in place for ordering. Despite these hurdles, the billing is in many cases wrong.

Procedures and contacts change at AT&T regularly. Try this page. I can tell you from experience that router issues must be handled by email with responses coming from as far away as Singapore. (I wish I was joking.) Also, disconnects have to be emailed in on a special form with a lot of info like BAN, circuit ID and more. Responses take a week even though they say they take less time. Your Business Office can not help with this. Maybe with the credits afterward. It's just too big to fail and too large to get anything done too.

Let's face it: AT&T is a $120B company. Even $8 million in revenue is an accounting error -- or a billing error. The giant has announced twice that it wants to shutter the PSTN. The FCC is in agreement. The giant has claimed that it is a Wireless company to that effect almost half its revenue now comes from wireless. U-Verse, fiber, Mobility, Cloud, Internet and International are the areas of the future. All else is just sunk costs.

Hope to see you in Orlando for the Service Provider Summit.

Clarification sent in from Dane:

You wrote "DSL was de-regulated or un-regulated in 2005 following the Brand-X Supreme Court decision." Elimination of mandatory wholesale of DSL was executed by the FCC's DSL forbearance decision. Brand X was cited by the telcos as a supporting argument, "they don't have to share, we shouldn't either", but wasn't directly connected (as "following" sort of implies.) The requirement was then extended (I would guess voluntarily) by the requirements of the BellSouth/AT&T merger. (see: ) Those conditions have now expired, so most ISPs are now totally operating without a net. and a few others have commercial contracts that provide some certainty, but they're not very long duration. Most expire in mid-2012.

From Dane Jasper, CEO & Co-Founder of, Inc.

MY REPLY: I was writing a shortcut. After the Supremes decided on Brand-X, the dominoes fell and the ILEC's were awarded forbearance on DSL (and other services like fiber). The merger did have conditions, but the FCC is powerless or blind to ever enforce merger conditions. (You should read some of them. Most have been ignored.) At least 2 DSL contracts set to expire in Dec. 2011 have received notification that it will not be renewed. Hence, my constant writing to get ISP's to move up the stack.

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