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AT&T: FCC Can Act Now to Boost Tribal Communications

AT&T says the FCC could take an immediate step to help
boost communications service to wireless lands.

That comes as the FCC votes Thursday to take a number of
first steps intended to make it easier to provide radio station ownership and
service, expand wireless and wired broadband service, to Indian country.

In a blog posting AT&T VP of Federal Regulatory Joan
Marsh, said that the FCC's inaction on a petition is the only thing standing in
the way of its provision of high quality wireless service to the Pine Ridge
Reservation in South Dakota.

According to AT&T, the FCC has yet to act on its
petition to transfer to AT&T the eligible telecommunications carrier
designation from Alltel, from which AT&T bought wireless licenses from
Verizon in June 2010. In granting that transfer, Marsh pointed out, "the
FCC also specifically sought to ensure the continuity of high quality, low cost
wireless services to the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South
Dakota, which also fell within the service area of
the assets acquired by AT&T.  AT&T committed to provide those
services, dependent upon transfer of the appropriate eligible
telecommunications carrier (ETC)

AT&T says it has been providing low cost service to the
reservation without Universal Service Support since the deal closed, but needs
the FCC to act on the petition so it can receive funding and continue to
do so in what is a high-cost area. Marsh said that if that funding is not forthcoming,
"these low cost services will be discontinued...The extraordinary delay in
approving [the petition] imperils the availability of the very wireless
services that the Commission seeks to encourage and support through the Native
Nations items," it is voting on Thursday.