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AT&T Weighs In: Trust Us, We Know What You Want

By - August 15, 2010

So I’ve read this post – Wireless is Different (AT&T blog) – several times now, and while AT&T is a respected brand, I have to differ on this policy issue. In this post, AT&T’s policy folks weigh in on the Verizon/Google dust up, saying “it’s really hard to do what we do and therefore we need to be seen as different.”

I’ve heard this before, a million times, and I don’t buy it. As I recall, it’s what the telcos said back in the mid to late 1990s, when they noticed the Internet eating up their wired (before wireless data) network, and didn’t want to be consigned to being “dumb pipes.” They complained that it’s really, really hard to do the kind of high quality, low down time service required for phone calls, and that the Internet was getting a free ride on all that hard work they did to lay the pipes, routers, and QoS (quality of service) processes down that allowed the Web to blossom.

Now that we’re going from wired to wireless, these same folks don’t want “the open Web” to happen to them again all over again. If they have to compete in an open marketplace, with the best applications and services on neutral ground, well, they’ll just be consigned, once again, to a commodity service layer with low margins. That’s their greatest nightmare. It’s far better to have a monopoly position as a gatekeeper to all our bits: to decide who can compete, and take tolls all along the way.

Ugh. Look at the way AT&T defines the debate in its post: “In order to provide consumers with the high quality wireless broadband services that they demand, wireless carriers must to be able to dynamically manage traffic and operate their networks in an environment free from burdensome, arbitrary and unnecessary regulations.”

In other words, *we* know what’s best for you, *we’ll* provide the services you want and need, so don’t *you* worry your pretty little head about things like, well, starting companies on a level footing, or providing services over our networks that we’ve not already pre-ordained or blessed.

Again. Ugh.

AT&T, this can’t stand. I appreciate you for many reasons, and I am a customer many times over. But this can’t stand and I hope the FCC has the backbone to do the right thing.

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15 thoughts on “AT&T Weighs In: Trust Us, We Know What You Want

  1. The Internet has to be a neutral asset, if it’s allowed to be a ‘toll-road’ we are all in trouble–and I won’t hold my breath on the FCC having much backbone–I think things could end up changing for the much, much worse if they don’t ‘man-up.’

  2. Pedro Guzman says:

    Ok, first of all I don’t believe in the FCC, in the past government has been a terrible regulator not only in the US but all over the globe. When a country do less government and it’s people start doing their own businesses then that country gonna get rich and fast only if government regulation is kept to a minimum.

    Now I don’t believe in the apocalyptic future Free Press and their readers want us to believe, I don’t remember the “Telcos” blocking certain packages again and again, and yes that Comcast thing is one Telco and I don’t recall Comcast doing the same thing with other types of packages, the internet has been running fine for years, anything new will get all kinds of problems all over again.

    Ok I took this CISCO CCNA courses a few years ago and they explained QoS very well, simple sometimes for some applications you need some priorities, for example if your routers have OSPF as their protocol you need that the packages with each router table goes first or else the network ain’t reliable, so that means that giving every package the same priority is just stupid, some packages need more priority for the network to work properly meaning if packages can’t be equals in terms of priority the whole Free Press thing sucks, we’ll be making hierarchies about package’s priority every time the network goes down and that’s just stupid it means Free Press’ opinion on this neutrality matter can’t be done it need to be modified every time there’s an error, I don’t know you but I don’t trust an idea which is based on the idea of equality but underneath give priority to every package who is important to run the network that just means all packages aren’t equal so the whole idea is just a cover up for “Telcos can’t have the power to prioritize packages as they see fit”. Now that’s interesting and too long to discuss at the moment.

    About the government, look at Australia they got I believe a 100% government owned internet infrastructure, I believe they got faster speed and cheaper prices than the US, of course is funded with tax payers dollars and everything looks cool, but I believe you know how much Australia’s government likes to ban content according to the moralistic view of their politicians, meaning you can move away if Comcast or Verizon pulled on their pipelines, you can switch Telco, but what can you do about a government??? You can vote against the current administration but I don’t recall a government in the last 50 years to shrink itself, to let go of something they “own”.

    Anyway I prefer Telcos running the pipelines instead of any government because I can switch Telcos or in 10 years a new company might do to the Telcos what Microsoft did to IBM in the 80s or what Google did to Microsoft in the 2000s, the private market is always evolving on the other hand our “leaders” are very old people with very old beliefs if you give them the power sooner or later they gonna impose on you their beliefs, at least I know Telcos just want my money but they don’t care about me as a person, and I believe that’s a relief because I don’t care about them I just want their services and nothing else.

    Oh btw about new companies and innovation, revolutionary companies don’t need regulation they just do what they do best, defy the current market and change it, putting it “easy” making an “Open Internet”, which is not “Open” you just switched gatekeeper is only gonna stop innovation because instead of thinking of new ways to do stuff everyone is just gonna use the way the government paved for them and not gonna revolutionize anything, every company gonna be equal and that, every company doing things like everybody else is doing it is the real killer of innovation.

    Thank you for your time.

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  5. phil Jackson says:

    The WSJ has an article on this that I think is very good. The first thing I’d say is that “Hi I’m from the government and I’m here to help” is never words that are good for the company or consumer. The second is a quote from this mornings article

    When a commission is responsible for the performance of an industry,” he famously wrote in “The Economics of Regulation” (1970), “it is under never completely escapable pressure to protect the health of the companies it regulates, to assure a desirable performance by relying on those monopolistic chosen instruments and its own controls, rather than on the unplanned and unplannable forces of competition.”

  6. Stan Thow says:

    I believe that we have lived in the greatest period in the history of mankind that will never be equaled. With lots of freedom and minimum regulation.
    But we are slowly but we are surely losing that freedom from regulation.
    There are too many vested interests wanting both profit and control.
    It’s a shame.

  7. Hippy Hop says:

    The wireless game is a hard battle to fight with all the regulations the government impose. The frequency is so saturated that it needs a new technology. In every country, you buy a frequency for your wireless business and it cost millions of dollars for a single frequency. That sure is a lot of added cost compared to a wireline business.

  8. Jeorge Peter says:

    Nice point on your blog! Thanks, this will be one thing that will influence the Google/Verizon debate.

  9. Maier says:

    Maybe yes, thank you.

  10. Indira says:

    “In other words, *we* know what’s best for you, *we’ll* provide the services you want and need, so don’t *you* worry your pretty little head about things like, well, starting companies on a level footing, or providing services over our networks that we’ve not already pre-ordained or blessed.”

    But that’s exactly what Apple does.

  11. business says:

    This is a slippery slope and I do hope the world wide web stays a neutral place.

    With the lack of competitors in the United States, these monopolistic practices will be problematic for every consumer.

  12. Tom says:

    I agree! Very good post…

    The characteristics of networks critically define the evolution of their potentials.

    Here’s another area where I believe this is more critical than is commonly realized:

    Political Fundraising: Act Blue, Facebook and the Missing Network Imperative

  13. BigDeal says:

    So let me get this straight….ATT you build the very nice roads that work all the time anywhere and really fast….and you dont get to have any say in other companies make their lucrative living off your hard work. No tolls for you?

    What other industry or business model does that? Should airlines not charge?

  14. Silas says:

    I think that Pedro posted a longer comment then the article

  15. AT&T is simply out of their minds. They think that the copper & right of way & land & laws & support & taxes & benefits that they have been given by the American people now belong to them. All of those things as well as the airwaves belong to me & my neighbor & my kids & their kids & the people on the other coast & in Hawai’i & do not belong to them.

    I would like to see the government start taking those things away each time that these lunatics say that they are the only people who could possibly know how to do this the right way.

    They will run that network for the benefit of the people or they will be run out of town on a rail.