Wednesday, May 10, 2006

AT&T: Suddenly Flummoxed (Updated!)

On one of its public relations web sites, AT&T describes its position as it tries to kill off network neutrality:

...[we] will not block, impair or degrade access to any legal web site, application or service, nor will we intentionally degrade the customer experience or the service delivery of content or application providers.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Now stop and ask yourself the following question. Why can't all of the King's lobbyists, lawyers and horsemen codify that single sentence into the law of the land?

Could it be because they don't intend to keep their word? Sometimes these guys are so transparent you can see through them on a sunny day.

Update: Pro-carrier blogger and anti-neutrality zealot Richard Bennett calls me a "shameless liar" and claims, "This exact language is in the COPE Act that was passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee last week."

What Richard fails to mention is that the COPE Act renders the FCC impotent to render decisions and "lessons-learned" rules around neutrality. Title II of the COPE act -- rather than giving the FCC enforcement power -- would instead handcuff it (pg. 43):

"...the Commission’s authority to enforce the broadband policy statement and the principles incorporated therein does not include authorization for the Commission to adopt or implement rules or regulations regarding enforcement of the broadband policy statement and the principles incorporated therein, with the sole exception of the authority to adopt procedures for the adjudication of complaints, as provided in paragraph (3)."

An unenforceable law is as good as no law at all. COPE disintegrates the FCC's ability to slap down misbehaving carriers and is nothing more than an unsubtle homage to the telcos' lobbying power.

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