AT&T Pauses High Speed Access Investment Until Net Neutrality Resolved

Uncertainty is bad for investment, and regulation of rates or prohibitions on new services even worse,  in the telecom and Internet service provider business. So it comes as no surprise that AT&T is pausing investment in faster Internet access facilities until the network neutrality uncertainty is resolved.  


That possibly could affect upgrades in 100 U.S. cities. There are many possible unintended consequences to any move by the Federal Communications Commission to impose common carrier regulation on U.S. Internet service providers.


For starters, the move would bring parts of the U.S. cable TV industry under common carrier regulation for the first time, something industry executives always have fought. That is the camel’s nose under the tent that could eventually affect the other parts of the cable TV business as well.


Nor is it entirely impossible that common carrier regulation of access leads to greater rules for content and app providers, either. That is, after all, what "common carrier" regulation is all about.

Paradoxically, even if such common carrier regulation of access services withstands legal challenge--and many suggest it will not--common carrier regulation could open the way for widespread offering of content delivery services that would allow content providers to voluntarily buy services stretching all the way to end user locations, the “pay for priority” future network neutrality supporters want to avoid.

Under common carrier rules, such services arguably could be offered, so long as all app providers have access, under the same terms and conditions, though volume discounts arguably would be lawful, benefitting bigger content firms more than smaller firms.
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