At the FCC’s “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” proceeding on Friday, AT&T said it will lower its Internet prices if the FCC allows Internet service providers to charge websites such as Netflix for faster delivery of content. In the wake of a court decision vacating the FCC’s net neutrality rules against charging for preferential treatment, the Commission opened a proceeding with hopes of writing new rules that achieve similar goals. AT&T is asking for rules that explicitly allow ISPs to charge for special access.
“While Netflix has begun paying Comcast for a direct connection to the edge of Comcast’s network, the FCC’s net neutrality rules have traditionally banned payments for preferential access on the network’s ‘last mile,’ from the edge to residences and businesses,” reports Ars Technica. “Apple is reportedly trying to get similar treatment over the last mile of Comcast’s network by taking advantage of a loophole in net neutrality rules Comcast was forced to agree to when it purchased NBCUniversal.”
Advocates for network neutrality have argued that allowing Netflix and other large corporations to purchase preferential access to consumers could make it even harder for startups to compete, as well as increase costs for consumers.
“Not to worry, says AT&T: Payments from so-called ‘edge providers’ — companies that deliver video and other services over the Internet — will help startups compete against more established players and lower the price of consumer Internet service,” explains the article.
AT&T also believes that flexible net neutrality rules will motivate startups to compete against rivals.
AT&T and other network providers are against net neutrality because if edge providers don’t pay, ISPs will have to spend billions of dollars to deliver the network demands that are created by bandwidth-intensive applications.
“Allowing ISPs to experiment with different pricing structures and impose charges on edge providers also would lead to pricing innovation that redounds to the benefit of consumers,” wrote AT&T. “By allowing ISPs to negotiate directly with edge providers, the Commission could both decrease the costs of broadband service for average consumers and increase the rates of broadband adoption.”