FCC fires back at AT&T with questions about its paused fiber rollout

The fallout from President Barack Obama's push to reclassify internet access as a public utility was immediate, and no one reacted faster than the nation's telecom giants. Most issued remarks that characterized the move as a huge mistake, but AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson went one better -- as if on cue, he announced that the company was throwing the brakes on its fiber network rollout because it didn't make sense to sink a ton of money a network infrastructure when no one knew "under what rules those investments will be governed". Long story short, he wants AT&T to wait to build anything until it can get a sense of what the final rules will look like. Naturally, the Federal Communications Commission didn't take AT&T's maneuvers lying down.

Earlier today the Commission issued a series of questions to the telecom giant asking -- among other things -- about the extent of AT&T's rollout plans and whether bringing fiber to all those new doorsteps would ultimately prove unprofitable. Oh, and the FCC wants to see every document AT&T has relating to its decision to limit its fiber rollout to the 2 million customers it promised as part of its plan to potentially buy DirecTV. That fiber rollout has been mired in confusion basically since day one thanks to AT&T's terribly vague statements -- it first named 100 towns and cities that could get that high-speed fiber service, and then mentioned its expansion of reach to those 2 million new customers. It's never been clear where those 2 million people would actually come from (or even if all those towns will ever get AT&T fiber), but the FCC doesn't seem pleased with the implication that AT&T would only do the bare minimum needed for regulatory lip-service. Anyway, the deadline for all that juicy info? One week. Your move, AT&T.

[Image source: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images]