Skip to main content

AT&T Concedes to a Two-Year Net Neutrality

Associated Press reports that lawyers for AT&T Inc. and the government worked marathon hours to forge an agreement that would allow the company to complete its $85 billion purchase of BellSouth Corporation.

The proposed deal could lead to the largest telecommunications merger in U.S. history, and enable communications industry consolidation to mirror what has happened in the media sector. In both cases, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been criticized by consumer groups for not protecting the public interest.

AT&T on Thursday night put forth what is expected to be its last and best offer, and it appeared it was 'good enough' to lead to a vote on the merger by the FCC as early as Friday. AT&T has offered concessions beyond what it had promised in October, including a significant pledge to observe standards regarding network neutrality -- basically, equal treatment for all Internet traffic.

AP reports that this issue appeared to be the biggest roadblock to a deal.

AT&T offered the concessions after a little more than a week of negotiations with lawyers who work for the commission's two Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, documents show. Consumer advocates praised the compromise.

Gene Kimmelman, vice president of federal and international affairs for Consumers Union, who has worked closely with the Democrats, said AT&T's new concessions are "an enormous improvement from where we were a month ago."

Ben Scott, legislative director for Free Press, a reform group that has fought the merger, said the network neutrality provision was a "big step forward for the supporters of an open Internet."

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, supported approval of the merger without any conditions. The U.S. Justice Department previously approved creation of the new telecommunications giant without conditions. Apparently, the consolidation isn't expected to limit market competition since incumbent telcos rarely compete with each other directly.

Among the promises made by AT&T:

- An offer of stand-alone, high-speed Internet service to customers in its service area for $19.95 per month for a total of 30 months. The 'naked DSL' offer would allow those who live in AT&T and BellSouth's service areas to sign up for Internet access without being forced to buy a package of other services.

- A greater commitment to network neutrality, or non-discrimination involving Internet traffic. AT&T said it would "maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband Internet access service" for two years.

It's not yet clear if the FCC, by default, has essentially agreed to defer a permanent solution to the net neutrality issue beyond the two-year open Internet reprieve. The combination of San Antonio-based AT&T and Atlanta-based BellSouth would have operations in 22 states and more than half of the major U.S. telecom services markets.

Popular posts from this blog

How to Drive Value Creation from Digital Business

Across the globe, many forward-thinking CEOs and CFOs continue to fund business technology investments that enable meaningful and substantive digital transformations, ahead of their industry peer group. That's why CIOs and other IT leaders must now accelerate the quest for value creation and drive digital growth from those ongoing investments, according to the latest market study by Gartner. "The pressure on CIOs to deliver digital dividends is higher than ever," said Daniel Sanchez-Reina, VP Analyst at Gartner . "CEOs and boards anticipated that investments in digital assets, channels, and digital business capabilities would accelerate growth beyond what was previously possible." Digital Business Market Development   CIOs expect IT budgets to increase 5.1 percent on average in 2023 -- that's lower than the projected 6.5 percent global economy inflation rate. A Gartner survey analysis revealed several ways in which CIOs can deliver "digital dividends&qu

Digital Transformation Investment at $3.4 Trillion

Business technology leadership matters. Across the globe, more leaders have been pursuing bold Digital Transformation (DX) initiatives with the goal of creating new sources of business value through digital products, services, and experiences. As an additional benefit, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that digital transformation efforts improve an organization's resilience against global market disruptions. Global DX investment is forecast to reach $3.4 trillion in 2026 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3 percent, according to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). Digital Transformation Market Development "Despite strong headwinds from global supply chain constraints, soaring inflation, political uncertainty, and an impending recession, investment in digital transformation is expected to remain robust," said Craig Simpson, senior research manager at IDC . The benefits of investing in DX technology -- including aut

Artificial Intelligence for National Border Security

National border protection agencies are under pressure to provide the highest level of security in the face of growing threats, such as increasing illegal migration and international terrorism. Now, government agencies are embracing advanced border security technologies to aid in effectively and reliably securing national borders. These solutions look to detect and identify potential threats and prevent them from escalating to a point that may jeopardize security. Security Surveillance Market Development Traditional border security patrols and Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance systems aren't adequate protection, and agencies must increasingly deploy new solutions to stay ahead of criminals and other potential threats to ensure the safety of a country’s borders. According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, the value of the border security technology market will exceed $70 billion globally in 2027 -- that's rising from $48 billion in 2022. Growing by 47 p