In a move to turn the tides, AT&T has stopped investing in high-speed fiber Internet, until the FCC makes a decision on net neutrality laws in the U.S.
The move comes after Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to postpone the net neutrality proposal until 2015, after the “hybrid” plan got destroyed by public advocacy groups and broadband companies.
AT&T has been investing in a few neighborhoods and states, to expand fiber speeds to 300Mbps and 1Gbps. This expansion is mostly in areas Google Fiber it thinking about entering, but either way it is a nice change of pace from the norm.
AT&T has a large say in the net neutrality laws – it controls two of the largest networks, both on broadband and mobile. If the FCC enacts Title II reclassification (and it passes) this could be a big problem for the future of AT&T.
Fast-lanes, perma-cookies and other new technologies being developed as new revenue streams for broadband and wireless networks would be void.
Lack of investment in fiber might be critical right now, but once Title II is employed, it may bring more growth in the broadband market. It would force broadband companies to either fight for customers or lose them to the incoming wave of municipal broadband and fiber optic options.
ISPs Fight Back
Even with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler goes with President Obama and most of the Internet and reclassifies broadband companies under Title II common carrier, it is only half the fight.
AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other ISPs have all stated they will challenge this reclassification in court – already prepared to fight the FCC out of the net neutrality debate.
The public is on the FCC’s side; if it sticks to the plan most public advocacy groups are pushing. The issue is Tom Wheeler is searching for a middle ground, when realistically he must choose a side.