Monday, February 14, 2011

AT&T-NCTA Ask FCC to Affirm Level3 v Comcast is Peering Dispute 02/14/2011 San Francisco - AT&T, Inc. (NYSE: T) and the National Cable Telecommun-ications Association (NCTA) today sent Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: LVLT) a Valentine's Day missive. Unlike the usual Valentine's wish, the two used the good offices of the Federal Communications Commission to communicate a special hello. 

Today's action marks the newest round in the dispute between Level 3 and Comcast Corp.(NASDAQ: CMCSA) triggered by the backbone provider's claim of last November 30 that Comcast had "imposed a new and discriminatory fee on Level 3 that could adversely impact the openness and innovation that has historically characterized the Internet." The two firms were in the midst of renegotiating a private peering agreement, the type of agreement common to the American telecom industry.

America's largest telco joined with the largest trade and lobbying arm of the cable industry to strongly urge that FCC "swiftly, clearly and publicly affirm that arrangements for Internet peering and other Internet backbone services are not subject to the net neutrality rules, and that the agency will decline to become involved in these commercial disputes." 

The petitioners are clearly concerned, as expressed repeatedly in their letter, that the dispute between Level 3 and Comcast could be regarded by the Commission as anything but a private peering dispute outside the reach of the FCC's recent Open Internet Order.

The strident request for clarification was issued to the Commission in a letter of today's date jointly signed by James W. Cicconi of the powerful DC-based government relations shop of AT&T (NYSE: T), and Kyle E. McSlarrow, NCTA's CEO.

The letter is published for the first time here, as NCTA immediately provided it to us at our  request of late this afternoon, Washington time.

Peering Letter v10 21411
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