The other day AT&T's top policy man Jim Cicconi called Netflix "arrogant"
and a freeloader, simply for expressing concern that large last-mile ISPs were looking to abuse peering relationships for profit and power. AT&T's comments weren't entirely unlike comments made by the company back in 2005, when then CEO Ed Whitacre poured gasoline on the network neutrality fight by insisting companies like Google wouldn't be able to "ride our pipes for free."
They don't, never have, and never will. What AT&T executives and investors have long dreamed of is finding some
way to force content companies to pay for network upgrades AT&T has been too cheap to pay for itself. Why should Google, Netflix and Facebook pay a random "troll toll" when everyone involved already pays for bandwidth? Just because
It doesn't matter how incoherent this argument is, it never seems to go away -- and in some cases has proven quite contagious for whiny overseas telcos as well
. AT&T's simply trying to "double dip" (getting paid numerous times for the same bandwidth) under the guise of reasonable discourse, and most of the technology press is letting them get away with it.
AT&T has been trying to erect arbitrary and unnecessary troll tolls for a decade with limited success (damn you, people gifted with common sense). Now, the company has pretty clearly set its sights on using peering arrangements to extract these desired funds. Netflix was just the first content company to notice
Cicconi's snotty response to Netflix's concerns was followed up by a filing with the FCC
, in which AT&T claimed that the death of network neutrality rules (and an FCC apathetic to potential abuses by AT&T in peering relationships) would somehow magically lower prices for consumers. Are you noticing a certain caliber to the quality of the arguments AT&T's been making for ten years yet?
Cicconi's rant not being quite enough for AT&T, AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega took to a conference this week to also again proclaim that somebody other that AT&T
should pay for upgrades AT&T's too cheap to pay for themselves. To hear de la Vega tell it, it's Netflix that should foot the bill for capacity improvements
. You know, just because:
Speaking at the Rutberg Global Summit in Atlanta on Tuesday, de la Vega, Chief Executive of AT&T Mobility said, “We have to provide additional capacity and so the only question is who should pay for that addition. Should everyone pay for it or should Netflix?"
Technically, everyone already does
pay for that needed capacity. They in most cases pay quite a lot for it. AT&T's customers, who already pay for bandwidth, are simply demanding a service from Netflix, who already pays for bandwidth and transit. Nobody is refusing to pay AT&T. So what is AT&T really saying here? They're saying what they've tried to feebly argue for a decade
: that everybody other than AT&T
should have to pay to upgrade the company's network.
Few in the press appear to be calling AT&T out on any of this nonsense, except perhaps for Brian Fung at the Washington Post
, who points out that after making $49 billion last year (not to mention a generation of massive subsidies) AT&T has all the money it needs to fund any and all capacity upgrades:
To say that regulators must decide between increasing costs on companies like Netflix or raising prices on consumers is to present a false choice. Rising demand is a fact of the industry. Meeting that demand is what network operators are built to do.
This, however, is AT&T, which has always operated by a very unique set of ethical and logical parameters, all while millions of their users wait for speeds faster than 6 Mbps. Make no mistake: what AT&T wants is to use peering relationships to make even more money off of the same network they're already being paid handsomely for across multiple fronts. That anybody
could -- even for even a second -- buy AT&T's argument that Netflix is to blame for un-upgraded AT&T networks speaks to both the quality of the tech press, and the quality of discourse in the modern telecom arena.