AT&T: VR Among Paid Prioritization Beneficiaries

Says there is way to prevent fast and slow lanes without prohibiting innovative real-time tech 2/28/2018 8:50 AM Eastern

AT&T suggests that virtual reality is one of those new offerings that broadband providers should have the freedom to prioritize as they manage their networks for consumers.

That came in a blog post Tuesday (Feb. 27) by AT&T D.C. EVP Bob Quinn calling for dialog, rather than a shade-throwing contest, over this issue of paid prioritization.

Feb. 27 was a net neutrality "day of action" as supporters pushed for a congressional resolution to nullify the FCC's December 2017 decision to remove the bright-line rule against paid prioritization, blocking and throttling.

As it did the last time there was an activist action day, AT&T, through Quinn, said it supported action, meaning legislation that would codify no blocking or throttling, degrading or discriminating, but that left open a conversation about paid prioritization for things like remote surveys, autonomous cars, enhanced emergency communications, and virtual reality services.

Related: Stephenson Calls for Consumer Bill of Rights

He also renewed AT&T's call for a consumer bill of rights that would apply "privacy, transparency, no censorship and openness" to the edge as well as ISPs.

He said the first three were critical: "I think we can all agree that the packets directing autonomous cars, robotic surgeries or public safety communications must not drop. Ever."

And if the concern of activists is the creation of fast and slow lanes, which he said AT&T has no interest in creating, then that conversation needs to address how to prevent that while still allowing "innovative, new real-time technologies."

He said both sides can continue to question each other's motives and "throw shade," or solve the issue through legislation "once and for all."

Most activists, and many Democrats, remain fixed on restoring the Title II designation of ISPs, which is a nonstarter for AT&T and others for reasons including that it allowed for ex post facto rate regulation.

Related: Why Do Democrats Want to Let Trump Violate Net Neutrality?

But others have signaled that there could be a non-Title II route if Congress clarified the FCC's authority to prevent an endless game of legal ping pong or the political swings in net neutrality's regulatory fortunes.

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