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AT&T Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck The Internet

AT&T Pretends To Love Net Neutrality, Joins Tomorrow's Protest With A Straight Face (techdirt.com) 68

Karl Bode, writing for TechDirt: You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger enemy of net neutrality than the fine folks at AT&T. The company has a history of all manner of anti-competitive assaults on the open and competitive internet, from blocking customer access to Apple FaceTime unless users subscribed to more expensive plans, to exempting its own content from arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps while penalizing streaming competitors. AT&T also played a starring role in ensuring the FCC's 2010 net neutrality rules were flimsy garbage, and sued to overturn the agency's tougher, 2015 rules. So it's with a combination of amusement and awe to see the company's top lobbying and policy head, Bob Quinn, pen a missive over at the AT&T website proudly proclaiming the company will be joining tomorrow's "day of action protest" in support of keeping the existing rules intact. According to Quinn, the company still opposes the FCC's popular 2015 consumer protections, but wanted to participate in the protest because that's just how much the sweethearts at AT&T adore the open internet.
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AT&T Pretends To Love Net Neutrality, Joins Tomorrow's Protest With A Straight Face

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  • You're gonna have a bad time.

  • Maybe you should all sit down and have a long, long think about what it means when an enemy of Network Neutrality finds the "Network Neutrality" that the FCC passed of use to them...

    All along, what the FCC provided was never what people thought of when they said they supported Network Neutrality, and furthermore (as with most giant regulatory packages) greatly favors large ISP's over small ones.

    If you are protesting the FCC Network Neutrality rules you are supporting AT&T. It's that simple.

    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @02:50PM (#54788749)
      It was in fact AT&T lobbyists/consultants that wrote the Net Neutrality regulations.

      Consider AT&T's position in the ISP market for a moment and you realize that this was all about their DSL bandwidth limitations and how that twisted copper pair can't deliver HD content let alone 4K content at any price level to most of their customers. They can't keep their competitors from delivering high bandwidth, but they can prevent their competitors from optimizing the cost of doing so with selective practices.

      Imagine cable companies offering "Base DSL speeds + ultra fast netflix, amazon, hbo, etc" for the same price as AT&T's crap service. It wold obliterate AT&T as an ISP.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @02:58PM (#54788805) Homepage

      If you are protesting the FCC Network Neutrality rules you are supporting AT&T. It's that simple.

      Actually, it's definitely not that simple. Even if you discount the possibility that this is nothing more than a cynical PR stunt by a net neutrality hating AT&T all it implies is that AT&T prefers to the status quo to what they are anticipating from Trump and Pai's alternative. That does not necessarily preclude them from hating the current regulations as well, just that they might be picking what they see as the lesser of two evils. The real issue here, at least for AT&T et al, isn't really net neutrality, it's whether they get regulated by the mostly toothless FCC, as is currently (and somewhat questionably) the case, or the FTC as Trump and Pai want. Whether they win that battle or not, you can pretty much guarantee they are going to get right back onto trying to scupper net neutrality (which TFS even states they are still opposed to) again.

      • all it implies is that AT&T prefers to the status quo to what they are anticipating from Trump and Pai's alternative

        Or they know that this won't make a difference and are getting some free PR spin in the process. There's nothing to suggest that they prefer what there is now to what Trump will bring.

    • It sure is a good thing that you and Rockoon show up in every net neutrality article to tell us how the telecos love net neutralitt, after we've watched them obviously resist and fight it with paid shills for years
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @02:43PM (#54788697)

    I'll bet this is nothing more than a bargaining chip - AT&T can probably make or break the FCC's repeal of Title II. They want the FTC and DoJ to approve their acquisition of Time Warner. But the Chief Executive has previously suggested he would see the merger blocked, and of late has been agitating against some of the key content producers.

    No, they're not really helping "the good guys" but for once the enemy of my enemy may be my ally in this fight, if only incidentally.

    At least, until the TW acquisition is approved. Then they'll accept whatever conditions, which probably include backing off Title II and Net Neutrality support.
    g=

  • I've said it before, will say it again: Call your Congress thing and tell them there'll be blood at the polls if they don't save NN. And make sure they know you're voting in their primary. Most of 'em can only lose in a primary.
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      While it's a worthy thing to talk to your representative in general, in this particular case, I think the ship sailed long ago: we have a political appointee interpreting the law in a way that parrots the wishes of his former employer (Verizon)... and a President cheering him on.

      The only thing that can change the situation is a change in the law. Even then, a change of heart within Congress is unlikely to change anything soon: they'd have introduce new legislation that is not on their agenda. They've alread

  • What most people don't realize is that Net Neutrality is a forced equality. That means Hulu and Netflix will be streamed at the same rate as everything else. Right now their Uverse internet service has to give Hulu and Netflix priority because their customers demand it. When Net Neutrality goes into effect Hulu and Netflix will be downgraded to match, or equal, the same service level as everything else.

    Customers can't complain because its now the law. But of course AT&T is a VOD, cable, and satel
    • How do you figure? Is there any information available on Netflix getting priority? My understanding is that they are able to deliver HD content thanks to their network of AWS hosts and CDN hosts.

      • If what you're saying is true why would Hulu and Netflix fight it so much? It wouldn't affect them at all.

        You're thinking in a purely technical way. Cable companies have a legal loophole. If an ISP can identify content as coming from a single source, even through its coming through AWS based CDN's they can still filter it. Its still the same codecs and software coming from the same set servers. Net Neutrality allow you to classify that a one source and put a cap on its bandwidth.

        Net Neutrality can
      • by NetNed ( 955141 )
        If that was the case they wouldn't be hiding U-Verse and pushing Direct TV like crazy.
    • by Knightman ( 142928 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @03:49PM (#54789129)

      The problem you are describing can only exists because of crappy infrastructure and ISP lock in. It's funny how other countries doesn't have this problem - because most of them actually have a competitive market.

      And talking about how NN takes power away from the individual is laughable when you look at how it works right now. Most consumers doesn't have any power at all since they have no choices in what ISP to use.

      The thing is, without NN there will be no new Netflix's for example because the cost of entering the market will be too high. Or for that matter, the ISP can throttle traffic to sites that they find questionable. There is no end to all the shenanigans they can do with the traffic without NN.

      In the end it all boils down to that there is almost no choice for the consumers which the ISP's milk for all it's worth and a bit more.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        I don't know what you're talking about. Most countries are fighting this same battle. The difference is that most countries (at least most developed countries) lean more toward protecting peoples' rights rather than corporate profits, a strong difference from the US mentality, so quite often NN rules just got implemented right away with little obstruction. It has little or nothing to do with competition in most countries. Just those damned socialist governments protecting peoples' rights like the commie

    • When Net Neutrality goes into effect Hulu and Netflix will be downgraded to match, or equal, the same service level as everything else.

      Which is a good thing.

      You AT&T service would not be effected by Net Neutrality since those are not on the internet

      Yes, and so?

      Net Neutrality, like almost any new law, takes power away from the individual.

      How do you figure that?

    • by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @07:09PM (#54790279)

      Hulu and Netflix should be given the same priority as say, Dailymotion. Why should DM (and the people who use it) get screwed just because its not the most popular streaming site on the planet?

      But Hulu and Netflix (and DM) all should also be given priority over say, bittorrent. This is called traffic shaping (or sometimes QoS) and most people want this to happen even though, by strictest definition, its not "neutral."

      Of course there's absolutely no reason why a law couldn't be written to effectively say "protocol-based traffic shaping is fine but provider-based or user-based prioritization is not fine." Just because "net neutrality" is a catchy phrase doesn't mean we have to accept it as an strictest-sense-all-or-nothing rule. We're can aim for a middle-ground point that allows for necessary shaping practices without also allowing significant abusive practices.

    • Right now their Uverse internet service has to give Hulu and Netflix priority because their customers demand it.

      Customers are demanding nothing of the sort, and the ISPs are definitely not giving priority to the biggest horder of traffic on their networks.

      What customers demand is fast internet, or internet at the advertised speeds. No one has ever demanded that their Netflix should be faster than Hulu, and why would they, asking for such a thing shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how the internet works.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow I wonder how Karl found that article that matches his viewpoint so closely, oh yeah, he wrote it. I mean we all know AT&T is bad, some things about the current net neutrality laws are good, some are so flimsy they are worthless and other bits are bad (that is just how government works).

    But isn't there some type of ethics where the /. editors won't post crap by the same person who wrote the article?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is almost certainly calculated to add to the confusion about whether "Net Neutrality" refers to unregulated capitalism in the internet domain (what AT&T is hoping you're going to think it means), or FCC regulations specifically crafted to ensure neutral treatment of content by the carriers (what techies think it means).

    You may notice that on occasion conflicting or competing bills show up in congress that have the same name, pretty much banking on the same principle. In those cases, calling your c

  • You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger enemy of net neutrality than the fine folks at AT&T. The company has a history of all manner of anti-competitive assaults on the open and competitive internet

    Well, so then it shouldn't be surprising that they want ISPs to come under the heavy-handed supervision of the FCC.

    You don't seriously think that a company that has been manipulating Congress for a century isn't fully capable of using any net neutrality legislation or FCC market interference to its advantage?

    • You don't seriously think that a company that has been manipulating Congress for a century isn't fully capable of using any net neutrality legislation or FCC market interference to its advantage?

      Why would any company need to use net neutrality legislation to its advantage when the lack of legislation is to its advantage. That's as silly as saying Standard Oil could use The Sherman Antitrust Act to its advantage but was never pushing for removal of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

  • So is no one looking at the big picture of this? Of course AT&T is going to support this. They were stupid in the past not to probably because they are an old company that has a complex about all thing related to their business model. Someone at AT&T finally woke up. Here is why: (at least why I think)


    So AT&T offer service on some of the oldest equipment out there. Their networks in a lot of areas still need upgrading and they can't offer what others do in those areas. That's one reason you
    • So along comes net neutrality, where everyone needs to be equal and it will be governed by our government. That means tax payer dollars being spent to extend line to areas with low amounts of users that isn't financially possible for AT&T to do.

      Uh, no, that's not remotely what it means.

      Network neutrality means the delivery of my packets, either from me or to me, will not be degraded or interfered with, regardless of their origin or destination, by my ISP or any other network provider between me and the other endpoint. It especially means that no network may extort money from me before they'll agree to stop degrading delivery of my packets. Net neutrality codifies what engineers always tried to do with the Internet for the past 30+ years: best sp

  • AT&T Pretends To Love Net Neutrality, Joins Tomorrow's Protest With A Straight Face

    You shouldn't anthromorphize corporations. They hate that.

  • And let's never forget that AT&T was the first, and most eager, company to cooperate with the government in installing equipment to capture everything flowing through their part of the internet backbone.

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