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AT&T lobbying story hits a nerve with readers

Lots of feedback on the Telecom lobbying story last week, that looked specifically into the message blitz by AT&T against the FCC's move toward open-Internet access rules.

Reader "rurik" was annoyed by AT&T's practices:

If only the telecoms would put all that lobbying money towards technology and service, instead of wasting it on advertising and mis-information. Then, perhaps, our bills would be exponentially lower. I loathe the fact that my money goes towards lobbying for things I'm against. I need to find a telecom that doesn't support the current, greedy, corrupt system.
10/22/2009 11:40:24 AM

More on service:
Beacon2 wrote:

All I know is I pay $60 for a wireless connection that promised connections speeds in the upper thousands and I get routinely, at any time of day, 20k to 40k. Will the new rules protect consumers from under delivery?
10/22/2009 9:21:10 AM

My response to Beacon is that he's isn't alone: Apparently more than half of the nation is getting slower broadband speeds than what they were promised and paid for, according to a recent FCC report. The report is part of the agency's task to come up with a plan, by next February, on how to provide high-speed Internet to all U.S. homes and businesses. And these issues -- speeds slower than paid for -- are being addressed in that plan as well as by the consumer bureau of the FCC which has its own investigation going on right now on consumer broadband experience. Stay tuned, I'll be watching this issue very closely.

Many said the FCC's move undermines an ISP's ability (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Sprint Nextel, Cox) to provide a good Internet experience for all its users.

TooManyPeople wrote:

The technical side of this issue should be further explained. Some Internet users are hogging the available bandwidth and are causing others to have slow Internet connection speeds. There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth; it is a shared resource, a finite physical medium (fiber or copper cable). It's no different than I-95 during rush hour. Imagine someone driving a vehicle that is 100 times larger than a standard car. That eliminates 99 other potential drivers. There's simply no room.
10/22/2009 9:03:14 AM

And there was lots of confusion still to what net neutrality is. The way I understand it, the open-Internet rules at the FCC would prevent the companies that give you access to the Web (your ISP, like Comcast, Verizon Communications, AT&T, and T-Mobile) from choosing what legal content its customers can access. In real terms, that means AT&T can't decide to block Skype's voice application from the iPhone, that runs exclusively on its 3G network -- indeed, after pressure, AT&T recently agreed to allow the iPhone application to run on the AT&T wireless network.

VirginiaGal2 explains further:

Net neutrality is simply a rule that your ISP cannot censor, slow, or block legal content. That is not "government control." Given that most of our news and entertainment is increasing coming from the Internet, it's a basic, simple consumer protection. It was also the rule under which the Internet was built and expanded, up until the early 2000's, when the FCC under Bush decided to tinker.

And some say a federal rule will be felt negatively by consumers:
sharkshooting wrote:

I hope you "pro net-neutrality" folks understand the shoe that will drop if this happens. Users (us) will be charged for what bandwidth we use per month. Just like cell phones. Net neutrality takes the bandwidth fees from Google, Facebook, etc and spreads those same fees on individual users. Enjoy your last few months of set prices for access. Welcome to pay by the minute network access. ENJOY! 10/22/2009 7:16:28 AM

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
 | Tags: at&t lobbying, facebook, fcc, google, net neutrality  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Government wades into digital parenting anxieties
Next: Oops! Lobby group forgets to fill in blanks of apparent form letter to FCC


Again, Cecilia Kang shows her bias, noting criticisms of AT&T but none of Google (which is spending more than AT&T on lobbying for "network neutrality" and is prompting AT&T and other broadband providers to respond). She also gives a misleading and incomplete description of what the "network neutrality" regulation proposed by Google (and currently in play at the FCC) would do.

Could this be because of all the Google-supplied ads and the two Google logos on this page?

Posted by: squirma | October 26, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Another lie from Brett:

" [Google] which is spending more than AT&T on lobbying for "network neutrality"

Care to provide a link to back up that lie Brett? Didn't think so, because as public records show, it simply isn't so.

Also, you seem to lack understanding of how Google AdSense works as well as a lack of understanding about Net Neutrality, or what the word "bias" means.

But wait, maybe if the FCC passes regulations to steal money from Qwest by forcing them to charge you lower special access rates you'll be happy.

Brett is simply the worst kind of social leech out there. He financially benefits from selling access to the Internet -- something he didn't invent or help to build -- using free public airwaves in the form of unlicensed spectrum (something fought hard for by the same groups Brett loves to denouce). But when the public demands some basic protections, Brett freaks out, but still has enough nerve to ask the FCC regulate special access and give him more free airwaves. Why don't you buy some at auction Brett, this is after all a free market, right?

-- Ama Bala

Posted by: amabala | October 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Again, we see a flame from "Ama Bala," who appears to work for either Google or one of its captive lobbying groups inside the Beltway.

It's actually quite easy to prove that Google is spending more on lobbying than AT&T. Just tote up the known "contributions" it has made to astroturf groups inside the Beltway (there are surely more), add them to the figures reported by for Google's expenditures on registered lobbyists, and you'll find that the total dwarfs AT&T's reported lobbying budget. In fact, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has given millions of Googlebucks to one single lobbying organization -- the New America Foundation -- alone! (This is a common ruse: pretending that a corporate contribution is a "personal" contribution from one of its executives. In any event, this "contribution" bought him the chairmanship of the group, essentially making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Google.)

As for the way that Google's "AdSense" works: I understand it quite well. I have to, because so long as Google holds a monopoly on Internet search, the businesses which I operate have no choice but to buy advertising from Google, even though the company has become quite malevolent.

As for the issue of "special access:" I've long held that regulation is only necessary in the event of market failure or anticompetitive behavior. Price gouging for "special access" is, unfortunately, the result of both. And the complete market failure in spectrum must be remedied if the public is to benefit from the best use of the airwaves.

Mr "Bala" also makes a number of false personal attacks against me above. I was, in fact, involved in the deployment of the early Internet; as a graduate student at Stanford, I helped to debug it and convert it to the protocols it uses today. And as the world's first wireless ISP, I have been building the Internet daily -- with my own hands -- for 17 years.

And, as a small, independent ISP, I know precisely what Google's destructive "network neutrality" regulation would do to businesses like mine and to free speech on the Internet. And none of it is good. Among other things, it would kill innovation, harm quality of service, destroy competition, limit free speech, and perpetuate Google's monopoly. Don't buy into Google's corporate agenda, folks; they have a monopoly and billions in the bank. They don't need more.

--Brett Glass

Posted by: squirma | October 26, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

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