AT&T: Preemptive Strike On Paid Prioritization Could Hurt Broadband Plans
Letter to FCC outlines areas of "apparent agreement"
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/15/2010 12:52:05 PM
Prioritization is one of the issues that put a crimp in FCC efforts to midwife compromise legislative language among stakeholders, including AT&T, on clarifying the FCC's authority over Internet access service.
In a letter to the FCC Wednesday, the company outlined areas where it said there was agreement between it and net neutrality regulation backers Open Technology Initiative (OTI) and the Center For Democracy and Technology (CDT) based on letters from OTI and CDT to the commission. There appeared to be lots of them, from AT&T's perspective.
But the big difference remains that those groups want a ban on paid prioritization for third-party content on an end user's last-mile connection, while AT&T is strongly opposed to a preemptive ban, invoking national purposes like remote healthcare it says could be thwarted by a preemptive ban.
CDT, for example, explains that the distinction is between user-requested "payments and contracts to which that end user is not a partyprioritization, which it finds "unobjectionable" and prioritizing traffic to that user according to "payments and contracts to which that end user is not a party," which it opposes."
"[T]he ban they seek would have the perverse effect of preventing the introduction of new, pro-consumer services that could further the Administration's and Congress's goals," said AT&T, including "through telemedicine; education through distance learning; the environment through telecommuting; and many other national imperatives."
But the letter was mostly about what the company saw as areas of "apparent agreement."
Those included that 1) existing prioritized service (so-called managed Internet services) are OK; 2) payment for prioritization is permissible; 3) that both intranetwork and end-to-end prioritization is allowable; 4) end users can mark packets for prioritization and 5) AT&T's managed services are consistent with its merger commitments in the BellSouth merger.
"AT&T believes that there is growing consensus on the pro-consumer benefits of Internet traffic prioritization and much more agreement than disagreement when it comes to the merits of such prioritization. To the extent OTI and CDT (or other parties) are interested in continuing this dialog," said the company in a letter to all the FCC commissioners, "we would encourage them to contact us directly so that we can mutually explore constructive solutions regarding these important issues."
Here is a novel idea. How about giving the choice to the consumer? Let the consumer decide (without extra fee) whether AT&T may prioritize their last-mile packets, in both wired and wireless network. Make this a must-have requirement to all ISP who wishes to implement prioritized last-mile network.
If AT&T's prioritized management delivers superior service and offers "enhanced experience" for the consumer as it often claims, then a majority of consumer will no doubt choose it. Of course we all know what would happen...
Andy Lee - 9/16/2010 3:52:09 AM EDT
The result of what AYY wants to get approved go around the band of shaping traffic and getting the FCC to agree to it. The content providers will not agree to this item and ATT is going to have content providers not sending any traffic. They don't have enough business to do anything and they will told get lost period as the biggest ISP believes in net neutrality and wants to show what is happening in the Internet. It would show that there is ISP thru electric coops as the biggest in US and the content providers don't care what ATT does and if they want their traffic to stop then ATT so be it.
Marvin George - 9/16/2010 12:46:04 AM EDT
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