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AT&T: Net Neutrality Rules Preventing Roll Out Of Services

December 2, 2015 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

The senior Vice President at AT&T, Mr. Bob Quinn, revealed on Tuesday that the company had to forego plans to offer a number of new services on its network, thanks to the legal uncertainty surrounding the FCC’s new net neutrality rules. Mr. Quinn was speaking at the Phoenix Center’s 15th annual US Telecoms Symposium, where he said, “Since the Open Internet order came out we’ve had weekly calls with the business units and literally 15 lawyers who are all trying to figure out whether that stuff we’ve invested in … would be a violation of the order. We’ve had to shelve a bunch of stuff because we’ve got to wait and see”. This Friday, the net neutrality rules laid down by the FCC earlier this year will be argued yet again at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, thanks to the legal challenge from stakeholders within the broadband industry, including AT&T.

According to reports, Mr. Quinn refused to divulge anything further, apart from saying that the company didn’t want to be the first carrier in the country to offer any type of zero-rating services on the lines of T-Mobile’s Binge On video streaming program, in the wake of the FCC’s directives regarding net-neutrality. The Chairman of the FCC, Mr. Tom Wheeler, however, has described T-Mobile Binge On as “pro-competition” and ‘pro-innovation” much to the annoyance of AT&T, which itself, also operates a ‘Sponsored Data’ program, whereby it zero-rates data from marketers and advertisers who the pay the carrier for such exemptions.

AT&T has also been at loggerheads with the FCC over a number of other issues in recent times. The carrier has already been penalized $100 million by the federal telecom regulator earlier in the year for throttling mobile data speeds. Then, just a couple of months back, AT&T complained to the FCC about T-Mobile and Sprint’s Wi-Fi calling services, which, according to AT&T, violated the FCC’s regulations that stipulate all voice calling services must support teletypewriter (TTY), which is an accessibility feature designed to help the audibly-challenged to communicate over a regular phone call by typing their message on the phone keyboard and have that message relayed through to the caller at the other end of the line in real time.