AT&T's Stephenson: Title II Could Threaten Universal High-Speed

Says Harmful Paid Priority Can Be Prevented under Sec. 706
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Concerns are clearly mounting that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler could move to a hybrid Title II model for reinstating Open Internet rules in response to pushback on his original proposal from those who see it as a way to allow for paid prioritization of Internet traffic.

Earlier this week, AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson talked to Wheeler about the issue, arguing that the FCC has authority under its Sec. 706 authority to prohibit paid prioritization "which harms consumers or competition," and that regulating the Internet under Title II could do a number on Wheeler's top priority of extending high-speed broadband.

According to an ex parte filing on the conversations, Stephenson told Wheeler that Title II "is not only contrary to Commission precedent, but would negatively impact broadband infrastructure investment in a manner that would be counterproductive to the Commission’s and Administration’s goal of making high speed broadband universally available in the United States."

AT&T did a tag team number on the issue. AT&T D.C. execs James Cicconi and Robert Quinn spoke with Wheeler senior counselor Philip Verveer about the same points.

Wheeler is said to be considering reworking new net neutrality rules along a Mozilla (Firefox) proposal to apply Title II to the ISP access providing the one-to-one connections between edge providers and users, and Sec. 706 to the one-to-many connections between those users and all the edge providers they can access.

AT&T has proposed prohibiting ISP paid prioritization, but allowing user-directed prioritization (as it currently does for business customers), say for prioritizing real-time activity like gaming over e-mail.