U.S. FCC chair recuses himself from AT&T IP transition trial review

WASHINGTON, June 13 Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:32am EDT

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Friday recused himself from the FCC's review of AT&T Inc's tests of a transition of networks to digital because of his past affiliation with participant EarthLink Holdings Corp.

EarthLink, a managed network and cloud services provider, has applied to participate in AT&T's proposed trials, in which it would test switching telephone services from existing circuit-switch technology to an alternative Internet protocol-based one to see how the change may affect consumers.

Wheeler, a former venture capitalist, stepped down from EarthLink's board of directors in November as he took reigns at the FCC. On Friday, he said that after consulting with FCC lawyers, he decided to recuse himself from the review of the AT&T's trials because of EarthLink's application.

AT&T is conducting so-called IP transition trials as it seeks to replace their old copper wires with newer technology like fiber or wireless. The tests would seek to establish, among other things, how consumers welcome the change and how new technology performs in emergency situations, including in remote locations. (Reporting by Alina Selyukh and Marina Lopes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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