Time and time again, we find that Internet Service Providers (ISP) are at a impasse about net neutrality. They like the idea of it, just not the oversight or practice of being governed in any way. Most, like Comcast, simply offer their own solutions. Most ISPs also vow to uphold net neutrality, saying it’s their vision for the future anyway. AT&T, however, is sitting on their wallet. Their CEO is now saying AT&T will throttle back on any network investments until the net neutrality discussion yields results.
The new battleground for net neutrality is reclassification, and that’s where AT&T is drawing tier line in the sand. Until they know what the FCC will treat ISPs, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson says “It’s prudent to pause. We want to make sure we have the line of sight on this process and where these rules could land, and then re-evaluate.”
Like Comcast ahead of him, Stephenson agreed with all points of Obama’s net neutrality proposal — except for reclassification as a utility. He says any restructuring by the FCC could take years, and be met with legal pushback from ISPs.
AT&T is set to make a big investment in their network, including fiber-optic lines to battle Google’s Fiber initiative. AT&T might consider a protracted fiber-optic rollout the safe bet, but is that the message we’re taking from them? “We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed”, Stephenson said.
AT&T seems to be insistent on changing the game, reclassification or not.