Net Neutrality Supporters Duped posted a story and video supposedly of outgoing at&t CEO Ed Whitacre’s farewell talk to the company’s board. The post featured some outrageously candid “quotes” from the talk such as:

“There’s a problem. It’s called Net Neutrality,” Whitacre told the heirs to AT&T’s telecommunications empire. “Well, frankly, we say to hell with that. We’re gonna put up some toll booths and start charging admission.”


“Will Congress let us do it?” Whitacre asks his colleagues. “You bet they will — cuz we don’t call it cashin’ in. We call it ‘deregulation.’ ”

Outrageous statements  indeed! But totally fabricated by Unfortunately, some news and blogger folk didn’t actually watch the video of the “speech” which was clearly a satirical cartoon, and voiced their own outrage ad Whitacre’s statements. Cnet’s Buzz Out Loud podcast (one of my favorites) was one of them.  Even Andrew Cohill, fell for the joke. Still his comments that follow his references to the speech have real value on what’s coming if the issue of Net Neutrality is not addressed seriously.Video image

It’s interesting that some of us who feel passionate about trying to protect Net Neutrality  are willing to believe the worst of intentions of the mega corporations that control what we see as a crucial piece of the common infrastructure of our society.

Net Neutrality in California?

Californian Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has announced he will be introducing a Net Neutrality bill. Supposedly that would prevent ISPs such as AT&T from charging higher fees for certain kinds of data traffic from selected content providers.

I’ve been a proponent of Net Neutrality but I really wonder how this would work technically if Calfornia was the only jurisdiction where Net Neutrality was the law.  Since data flows from everywhere to everywhere, what legal constraints  can be placed on the owners of the big pipes that only pertain to the geogrphical boundaries of one state? Perhaps a network engineer could clarify this for me.

AT&T Merger With Bell South Complete – But Agrees to Uphold Net Neutrality

The long expected merger of AT&T with Bell South has been approved, making the new company the largest telecommunications company in the country. From a March 7 article on MSNBC:

The new company would be the country’s largest phone company — with nearly half of all lines. It also would be the largest cell-phone carrier and the largest provider of broadband Internet service.

But also from that article, little mentioned so far today, is the estimate that the new merger will result in the elimination of up to 10,000 jobs. It waits to be seen if the new company will pass on any cost savings to customers or improve service in any way. Given the recent fiber break in this area and the lack of any public response from the company, I am not expecting anything much.

One positive result of the FCC agreement to allow the merger was a new set of conditions from AT&T which includes a commitment to uphold the principle of Network Neutrality. According to Ars Techinca, the letter was exacted by a couple Democrats on the FCC who were holding out for more commitments from AT&T.

Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu has a good analysis of the agreement. It appears that while the agreement is a big step forward for supporters of Net Neutrality, it is not as complete or as long lasting as we would like.

Net Neutrality in Neutral

CNet has an article that indicates the telecommunications bill pending in the U.S. Senate that has provisions in it to protect network neutrality (the idea that ISPs like AT&T should not be allowed to charge content providers extra fees to  prioritize  carriage of  certain content over others) is stalled in committee. With time running down for this year’s session, it seems unlikely the controversial bill will make progress. This means at the moment, there are no restrictions against the tiered Internet.

The whole arguement will start up again in the next Congress I’m sure.

The Father of the Web on Net Neutrality: This is Serious

In case you still haven’t figured out what side you are on in the great Net Neutrality debate, perhaps this brief post by Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the World Wide Web will nudge you to the light (thanks to Ars Technica for the link). It’s worth the time to read the Ars Technica post as well. Both posts clearly state what is at stake, and shoot down the telco ‘anti-regulation’ arguement.

If you have time, you might also want to check out this article by Danny Weitzer of MIT which goes in to more detail on the technical issues involved.