ATT Threatens FCC With Slowed U-Verse Deployment – Which is odd, given they slowed deployment already…

This is indeed very strange … but I bet AT&T gets its way in the end.

According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T is threatening to slow U-Verse investment if the FCC moves forward with their plans to partially reclassify broadband ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act. Of course threats of slowed investment are the norm for carriers trying to get Uncle Sam to do what they want — so this certainly isn’t particularly surprising. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson stayed fairly vague with the threat, but the message is clear:

The service is now available to 24 million homes, and the telecom giant has a target of making it available to 30 million by the end of 2011. But AT&T says that investment could be cut short due to fears the new regulation could change the economics of the industry. “If this Title 2 regulation looks imminent, we have to re-evaluate whether we put shovels in the ground,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said in an interview.

The problem? The Wall Street Journal fails to mention that like Verizon with FiOS, AT&T already slowed U-Verse deployments in the hopes of trying obtain stimulus money. Also ignored by The Journal? The fact that AT&T is already cutting corners by investing in VDSL and ADSL2+ instead of fiber — and slowing build out deployments hurts AT&T and the future of their company as a next-generation broadband company — much more than it will hurt regulators.

This is especially true as Comcast quickly deploys DOCSIS 3.0 to the majority of their markets, and prepares to deploy even faster 100 Mbps service in short order. Users stuck on last-generation DSL in regions AT&T doesn’t want to upgrade will simply flock to cable. That’s of course assuming they have competition. Were there more competition, AT&T wouldn’t have the luxury of pouting about regulators who actually regulate.
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