AT&T Says Keep Net Neutrality Rules Off Wireless
The battle over new rules on Web access proposed by the nation's chief communications regulator Monday will come down to the cellphone.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined in a speech this morning two new guidelines that would prevent network operators from deliberately blocking content and services on networks. And he said the rules would require companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Sprint Nextel to open up about how they manage the flow of content over their networks to ensure they aren't discriminating against services consumers want, giving them an unfair advantage over competitors.
He said his proposed rules will apply across all platforms -- which in teleco-speak includes telecommunications lines, cable and wireless networks. That last one is where the FCC may see the most resistance.
In response to the announcement, AT&T officials said they would support broadly the principles outlined by Genachowski for their wireline business. They don't think the rules should apply to wireless.
"We are concerned, however, that the FCC appears ready to extend the entire array of net neutrality requirements to what is perhaps the most competitive consumer market in America, wireless services," Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a statement.
He said wireless networks can't be looked at equally to wireline broadband networks because bandwidth is more limited. To impose new rules on how carriers run their wireless networks could hurt investment, he said.
U.S. wireless networks are "facing incredible bandwidth strains, and which require continued private investment at very high levels, and pro-active network management, to ensure service quality for 270 million customers," Cicconi said.
"We would thus be very disappointed if it has already drawn a conclusion to regulate wireless services despite the absence of any compelling evidence of problems or abuse that would warrant government intervention," he said in the statement.
September 21, 2009; 1:48 PM ET
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Posted by: MoonDoggie | September 21, 2009 2:32 PM