AT&T’s Big Net Neutrality Statement: Yawn

AT&T sent a letter to the FCC and held a press conference to say …  the same exact thing they’ve said for 3 years.

In the letter, they said they don’t like net neutrality.  They said they think the FCC shouldn’t adopt a net neutrality rule with a fifth principle forbidding discrimination and ensuring neutral Internet access.  And they said–if the FCC must adopt a fifth principle–it should be a toothless fifth principle permitting AT&T to discriminate, but to do so “reasonably.”

But AT&T knows this is old news–covered by existing law.  Last year, AT&T’s head lobbyist (the author of today’s letter), said, on a panel I moderated, in fact: “The current [FCC] principles already deal with unreasonable discrimination.”   So what’s AT&T’s big announcement?  They’re proposing a law they think already exists, which net neutrality supporters (like Free Press and the President) would find incomplete.  (Free Press has already called the supposed compromise a “bait and switch.”)

The most interesting part is that AT&T is admitting it would like to discriminate (but “reasonably”).  This is the same company that thinks blocking Slingbox but not competing apps is reasonable discrimination and blocking Skype on the iPhone, until a recent change of heart, was also reasonable.  AT&T’s CEO in 2005 considered it reasonable to charge Vonage and Google to reach consumers, and told Business Week as much.

So, if AT&T wants to make news, I’d actually appreciate them explaining what kinds of discrimination they would like to engage in, and why they consider these discriminations reasonable–rather than threats to an open Internet.

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