Time For Merger, Not Debate, Says AT&T

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AT&T says that its merger with BellSouth is not the proper venue for an extended policy debate on network neutrality.

The It's Our Net Coalition, made up of a laundry list of big computer company's, filed comments Tuesday with the FCC saying that the commission should revise the AT&T proposal to make sure that the the conditions guarantee "evenhanded treatment of all Internet-based applications, content and services traffic traversing its broadband facilities, regardless of its source, destination or ownership."

Responding to that, AT&T Executive VP External and Legislative Relations Jim Cicconi said Wednesday that the coalition's comments "smack of public relations-driven opportunism as opposed to a thoughtful approach to policymaking. The proper place to be debating the pros and cons of net neutrality is in the U.S. Congress or in an industry-wide proceeding at the FCC. It is not appropriate or justified to set policy in this area based on applying merger conditions on only one company."

Cicconi said that the coalition's time might be better spent "encouraging all infrastructure providers to accept to the same FCC net neutrality principles," which AT&T has offered to do voluntarily to help get FCC approval of the deal.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was stymied in an attempt to vote on the merger before the 180-day shot clock ran out Oct. 20.

He is scheduled to try again Nov. 3.

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