ZipDX CEO David Frankel has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny the AT&T/T-Mobile merger unless HD voice requirements are put onto AT&T as conditions it needs to meet once it completes the deal.
Frankel briefed FCC officials from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Office of General Council, and the Consumer & Government Affairs Bureau via telephone on May 27 and filed a PETITION TO DENY the merger without an HD voice “remedy” attached with the FCC on May 29, 2011, with copies sent to AT&T and T-Mobile.
In a Powerpoint presentation, Frankel argues that the U.S. telecommunications industry has neglected audio quality, causing harm to phone users generally and “disproportionately so” to those with certain disabilities.
An AT&T/T-Mobile combination would take an innovator out of the market and reduce competitive pressure to improve, as well as raising the specter of a huge “closed” network that doesn’t exchange high-quality audio with other operators.
The remedy Frankel proposes would compel AT&T to provide “an array” of HD voice capable handsets, support of HD voice throughout its network, freely exchange HD voice with other service providers, and “continue to improve audio quality & provide free video exchange.”
More specifically, AT&T would have to provide at least 10 percent of its newly activated phones to be HD voice capable in 2012, rising to 40 percent, support end-to-end HD voice calling on its network, interoperate with another other service provider in G.722 and AMR-WB, and provide interoperation for new services (i.e., video).
Among the concerns raised in Frankel’s filing is impact narrowband audio quality has upon those with various disabilities and conditions, including hearing loss, cochlear implant technology, speech impediments, and visual impairments.
ZipDX’s filing with the FCC can be found at: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021675100
An automated speech-to-text capture of the ZipDX/FCC briefing call is available at:
Human-transcribed version of the ZipDX/FCC call is at: