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AT&T to FCC: Hands Off Specialized Services

began to pile up at the FCC as the midnight (Oct. 12) deadline approached for
comments on two key issues in the debate over expanding and codifying
network neutrality.

computer companies argued for applying those guidelines to wireless
broadband, and to managed services if the FCC feels it must weigh in
now, ISP AT&T took the exact opposite tack.

In its
comments, the company said it should keep its "hands-off" approach to
the wireless industry, while it allows specialized services to "develop
unhindered by innovation-stifling neutrality regulations."

That divide
is essentially what blew up stakeholder talks over a legislative
solution to clarifying the FCC's broadband authority. Both AT&T and
computer companies were in those talks inside and outside
the FCC.

Appealing to
the FCC's emphasis on broadband as a link to telemedicine, energy
education, and other national purposes, AT&T argues that so-called
specialized services--those are services that ride
the last mile of broadband infrastructure to the home but are not
delivered on the "public Internet"--would be at risk if a network
neutrality regime were applied to them.

services and mobile wireless services are critical to achieving the
ambitious broadband goals established by Congress and this
Administration," said the company in its filing. "Many
of the individual services that will be used to meet the Recovery Act's
goals-enhancing "consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety
and homeland security, community development, health care delivery,
energy independence and efficiency, education,
worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity,
job creation and economic growth"-will be "specialized" or wireless or,
in many cases, both."

To apply
network neutrality rules would "throw a wet blanket of
investment-chilling regulatory uncertainty on the nascent market for
specialized services," said AT&T.