Just a few days after AT&T announced that it would pause the rollout of its high-speed fiber network until net neutrality rules are decided, the FCC has sought more information on the company's decision.
In an email to AT&T, the company was asked to provide data related to its plans for fiber deployment, including the current number of households to which fiber is deployed, the total number of households to which the company planned to deploy fiber prior to its decision, and the total number of households to which the company currently plans to deploy fiber.
AT&T first announced its plans to expand its ultra-fast fiber network back in April this year, saying that the roll-out would cover up to 100 cities nationwide, including 21 major metropolitan areas. But last week, the company did a U-turn, arguing that a wider roll-out would be a loss-making proposition, should the FCC enforce net neutrality rules.
"We can't go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed", AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had said, adding that the company would limit the deployment to 2 million additional homes that were committed as part of the DirecTV deal, which is still under review at the FCC.
Aside from details on roll out plans, the federal agency has also asked AT&T to provide a detailed explanation on how it could lose money from the wider rollout, whether the fiber to the 2 million homes following acquisition of DirecTV would be unprofitable, as well as all documents related to its decision. AT&T has one week to respond.
Earlier last week, President Barack Obama publicly came out in support of net neutrality, asking the FCC to reclassify Internet service as a utility, but the agency was quick to hit back, saying that it is not directly answerable to the government. "I am an independent agency", said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.