AT&T has written the Federal Communications Commission, saying it agrees that "preserving the open character of the Internet is critically important to ensuring that all consumers have the opportunity to be creators of content and innovators from their homes or garages."
But it also said the commission must also preserve the open market for private investment that will help fulfill the promise of the Internet.
While it continues to argue that the current uncodified and unexpanded FCC Internet access guidelines are sufficient to the task, it advised that if it goes "beyond the status quo," to codify and expand network neutrality principles, it should avoid a strict nondiscrimination standard and instead focus on conduct that is "unreasonable and anticompetitive."
A strict nondiscrimination standard, AT&T argued, "could inadvertently limit the availability of creative and innovative services."
AT&T also praised the FCC's proposal of a Technology Advisory Process, which is the FCC's way to try to insure it keeps up with the latest technology in network management as it tries to distinguish reasonable management from blocking, impeding or degrading content.
Had such a process been in place, the Bittorrent/Comcast issues might never have become one, it suggested.
"We welcome AT&T's letter to the FCC indicating that consumers must be at the forefront of the net neutrality rulemaking at the FCC," said Gigi Sohn, network neutrality supporter and president of Public Knowledge. "After many years of asserting the contrary, the company finally has acknowledged that this is an important consumer issue, and that protecting and preserving an open Internet is vitally important to investment, innovation, and free speech," she said.
But the AT&T proposals did not sit well.
"However, the details of AT&T's letter are disappointing," she said. "The company still opposes a simple nondiscrimination rule to prevent network operators from discriminating against content and applications - exactly what is necessary to protect the interests of its subscribers."