The Federal Communications Commission is seeking an explanation from AT&T on why the company will be delaying the rollout of the fiber-optic expansion for high-speed Internet.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson previously said that the company will be stopping its investments in its planned nationwide fiber upgrade plan until matters on net neutrality are resolved.
Stephenson's statements represent the first business move that was made by an Internet service provider in response to President Barack Obama's unexpected proposal to the FCC to regulate Internet service providers as it would public utility companies, with stricter oversight and more control given to the agency.
Internet-based companies and consumer advocacy groups praised Obama's call, stating that it is the only way to ensure net neutrality, which is the concept of treating all Internet traffic equally.
Without such regulation, Internet service providers can charge clients higher rates for their services and apps to access fast lanes on the Internet.
In response to AT&T's revelation of its plans to halt expansion, the FCC has sent a letter to the company to seek details and documentation on which projects will be halted.
The letter was signed by Jamillia Ferris, who oversees a significant portion of the FCC's review of the proposed $48.5 billion acquisition by AT&T of DirecTV, which is pending review.
According to Stephenson, included in the announcement of the acquisition of DirecTV was the expansion of fiber-optic networks to 2 million more homes, which the company will commit to once the acquisition of DirecTV is completed.
However, the company has also stated that it will be deploying new fiber-optic networks to 100 cities.
"We can't go out and just invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities other than these two million not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed," Stephenson said, referring to the net neutrality laws that are still in limbo in the FCC.
The letter by the FCC is asking AT&T to reveal all the documentation connected with the company's decision to halt its investments and expansion. Included in the information being requested by the FCC are the location and number of households that would have received access to fiber networks in earlier plans of the company and the same data for the company's current plans.
Additionally, the FCC asked whether the investment model of AT&T now shows that the deployment of fiber networks is unprofitable, or if the company is expecting it to become unprofitable after its purchase of DirecTV.