AT&T Joins Internet Action Day

Looking to get in on Title II fans' internet day of action July 12, AT&T said Tuesday it would be joining in—sort of. It is calling for Congress to step in to preserve that open internet but without resorting to Title II regs it argues were meant for another century.

ISPs have long argued that Title II fans don't have a monopoly on wanting to protect network neutrality.

"This may seem like an anomaly to many people who might question why AT&T is joining with those who have differing viewpoints on how to ensure an open and free internet," AT&T senior executive VP Bob Quinn blogged. "But that’s exactly the point – we all agree that an open internet is critical for ensuring freedom of expression and a free flow of ideas and commerce in the United States and around the world....On the eve of this 'Day of Action,' AT&T reaffirms our support for an open internet based on protections that are fair and equal for everyone.  We hope Congress can reach agreement on these principles and make those protections permanent."

AT&T's participation in the action day includes running TV and print ads (see picture)Tuesday through Friday pointing out that it also supports an open internet (though not based on Title II) and saying no company should block or discriminatorily throttle web content. 

The company says it agrees that the internet needs to be a free flow of ideas and commerce and that no company should impede that, so it is joining in to champion the right to access content, applications and devices of the public's choosing. 

That covers at least two of the three current Title II-based rules—against blocking and throttling. The third rule, against paid prioritization, is a grayer area for ISPs and does not get a mention in the ads. 

The AT&T ads also say there should not be censorship, and there should be transparency.

ISPs have been pushing for Congress to step in and clarify that the FCC has the authority to prevent blocking or anticompetitive throttling without resorting to reclassification of ISPs under Title II common carrier regs, including, potentially, rate regs either before or after the fact.

But that is not the kind of action the day of action organizers have in mind. They argue that Title II is the only way to protect the internet against potential anticompetitive conduct and are also strongly opposed to paid prioritization.


John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.