AT&T throws support behind FCC chairman

* Carrier says it has 'long supported the principle of an open Internet'

Last month, FCC Chairman Genachowski gave a speech at the Brookings Institute that reopened debate on how to manage net neutrality -- especially on mobile networks. In our last newsletter, we presented some reader reactions to the issues so today we'll hear from AT&T in response to Genachowski's remarks.

Last month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech at the Brookings Institute that reopened debate on how to manage net neutrality -- especially on mobile networks. In our last newsletter, we presented some reader reactions to the issues so today we'll hear from AT&T in response to Genachowski's remarks.

Commenting in a prepared statement issued the same day as the FCC Chairman's comments, Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president, External and Legislative Affairs, said: "We commend Chairman Genachowski for his speech . . . which begins a public process of considering very important issues that will affect the Internet, and broadband investment, for many years to come."

Cicconi continued, "AT&T has long supported the principle of an open Internet and has conducted its business accordingly. We were also early supporters of the FCC's current four broadband principles and their case-by-case application to wired networks. To the extent that the chairman seeks to bolster the FCC's legal authority to enforce these principles, we would support him. We have also indicated publicly that, despite any compelling evidence of abuses that need correction, AT&T could also consider endorsing a fifth principle relating to actions that are unreasonably discriminatory and that cause material harm. Finally, we have never had concerns with disclosure or transparency regarding network management decisions so long as such requirements are reasonable.

"We are concerned, however, that the FCC appears ready to extend the entire array of net neutrality requirements to what is perhaps the most competitive consumer market in America, wireless services. Today, American consumers enjoy the broadest array of innovative services and devices, the highest usage levels, the lowest prices, and the most competitive choices of any wireless market in the world. . . . We have applauded this FCC for emphasizing that its regulatory decisions would be data-driven. We would thus be very disappointed if it has already drawn a conclusion to regulate wireless services despite the absence of any compelling evidence of problems or abuse that would warrant government intervention."

The AT&T executive concluded his statement by saying, "We are encouraged that in his speech, Chairman Genachowski pledged an open and fact-driven process would be followed before the FCC draws any final conclusions on these important questions. We welcome his opening this discussion today with a candid explanation of his purposes and concerns, and look forward to working with him and the other commissioners in a constructive way."

Our observations: As with any public policy debate, there are at least two sides to this complex issue. We'll weigh in with our opinion next week.

Learn more about this topic

FCC's Genachowski gives strong net neutrality endorsement

FCC chairman calls for formal net neutrality rules

Net neutrality battle spills into wireless world

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