AT&T's Downright Giddy About Weaker FCC Oversight And The Looming Death Of Net Neutrality

from the who-doesn't-like-zero-accountability? dept

AT&T is pretty damn excited about former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, Trump's new industry-cozy pick to head the FCC. That's in large part because Pai has made it clear his goal isn't just to gut net neutrality, new broadband privacy rules and most of the other consumer protections pushed by former FCC boss and and former dingo Tom Wheeler -- but to help dismantle the agency's role as consumer watchdog entirely. Of course, AT&T put things a little differently in a blog post applauding the selection:

"Today, on his first official day in office, President Trump designated Ajit Pai as the new FCC Chairman. No one is more prepared to reframe the agency to address the needs of this rapidly changing marketplace. Chairman Pai will work with his fellow Commissioners to quickly and decisively put back in place the commonsense regulatory framework necessary to support the President’s agenda for job creation, innovation and investment."

Anybody who actually believes this has simply not been paying attention to Pai's tenure at the agency, during which he consistently refused to stand up to large ISPs in absolutely any capacity. That includes downvotes on numerous attempts to hold AT&T accountable for outright fraud, whether it was the time AT&T was caught actively making its bills more confusing to help make it easier for crammers and scammers, the time AT&T was caught ripping off a program designed to help low income families, or that time AT&T was busted for turning a blind eye to drug dealers running directory assistance scams on AT&T customers.

So sure. AT&T's pretty excited about the fact it's potentially facing little to no accountability for what's a well-documented history of anti-competitive behavior and fraudulent activity. But it's also just thrilled by the idea that net neutrality rules could soon be sent to the digital dustbin of history, allowing AT&T to, in its own words, "go hard" on this whole zero rating thing:

"With a new operator-friendly FCC chairman in place, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said to expect the operator to “go hard” with its controversial “zero rating” strategy for its virtual MVPD service, DirecTV Now.

“Our customers are loving this value proposition,” Stephenson said during AT&T’s fourth quarter earnings call Wednesday. “We have more than 200,000 DirecTV Now customers on it, the service is not counting against their data cap, and that’s a big deal."

Except the "value proposition" AT&T's presenting isn't much of a value at all. Sure, some consumers labor under the illusion they're getting "free stuff" because AT&T's graciously letting them stream AT&T's content without running afoul of its arbitrary usage caps. But in reality, AT&T's preferential treatment of its own content simply repositions the cost burden to competing services while distorting the overall competitive market. You know, like the outgoing FCC told AT&T when it sheepishly and belatedly told the company it was violating net neutrality and acting anticompetitively just a few weeks and a universe ago.

Moving forward, the name of the game for AT&T will be to play kissy face with the new administration in the hopes of blind, blanket deregulation, some lovely tax cuts, additional unaccountable subsidies (these telcos have received billions over the years for networks either barely or half-deployed), and approval for the company's $100 billion acquisition of Time Warner:

"I got to tell you, I was impressed,” Stephenson said (after meeting Donald Trump). “It was obvious I was meeting with a CEO. He has a very clear agenda—tax reform and regulatory reform. I can tell you that he’s focused on these things. And I left with a degree of optimism that this could be pulled off this year."

Describing himself as a “supply-side guy,” Stephenson added that “If you saw tax rates move to 20-25%, we know what we would do. We would step up our investment rate."

In regards to deregulation, he added, “Nobody thinks that regulations should go away. We all believe the customer needs protection. But the problem is that we’ve had regulation that’s unpredictable, and it’s interfering with how we’re designing products, how we enter markets."

AT&T's a master in promising broadband deployment it never actually delivers in exchange for regulatory favors and government handouts, and has been doing it for decades without much fact-checking from the media. AT&T's also incredibly good at bullshitting the press and public into falsely believing that massive telecom megamergers actually create jobs, despite thirty years of documentable history proving the exact opposite.

So despite Trump's campaign-trail promise to block AT&T's latest megamerger (largely believed to be little more than pouting over negative CNN coverage), there's an incredible opportunity here to field a merger sales pitch bullshit supernova -- the scope and scale of which we've never seen before.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 7:51am

    As intended...

    Things are going back to what they were meant to be. Tom "The Dingo" Wheeler was certainly an anomaly.

    But this is the natural and desired form of the FCC. Like many other regulatory agencies... "Industry Bitches"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 8:41am

      Re: As intended...

      Upon what do you base your conclusions?
      You have provided nothing other than your opinion and therefore it is relegated to the circular file.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 8:44am

        Re: Re: As intended...

        History, try reading it some time.

        So let me throw your own line right back into your face...
        You have provided nothing other than your opinion and therefore it is relegated to the circular file.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: Re: As intended...

          You're wrong. How do I know? Because I just do, and if you disagree it's up to you to prove that I'm wrong about you being wrong.

          That strike you as a convincing argument? Because that's the one you're making, and if you wouldn't accept it against you, you shouldn't expect anyone to buy it coming from you.

          If it's so clear then you should have no problem providing evidence to support your position, that you don't means that people can just dismiss your claims outright as unsupported.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Thad, 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

            I often wonder how many of these guys there actually are.

            Maybe it's only one anon, and we're explaining how sources work, over and over again, to the same guy. If so, he's probably having a good laugh.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

              Fifty cent brigade strikes again.

              Lets see here ...
              with 50 cents per post and a minimum wage of 7.25 per hour, one would need to make 14.5 posts per minute or one post every four seconds ... for eight hours a dat, five days a week ....
              That sounds like a horrible way to make a living.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 3:09pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

                Seems to me that you guys are the 50 cent brigade.

                As stated, the history of the FCC is on public display. No one cares if you cannot learn for yourself, you will just be crushed and ground in the annals of history like all the rest that could not be bothered to learn.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 6:01pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

                  You seem quite sure of yourself and yet refuse to expound upon your silly claims. For example, wtf does this mean?

                  "Things are going back to what they were meant to be."



                  and where does this bullshit come from ... your back I assume.

                  "this is the natural and desired form of the FCC"


                  Your pompous ass approach to public discussion is perhaps a novelty at first but quickly becomes SSDD.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 8:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

                  Once again: You're wrong. Because I said so, and it's obvious, and if you want to prove me wrong about you being wrong do your own gorram research on it, as the history clearly states that you're wrong.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 8:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: As intended...

              Oh it's likely just the one person for this particular logical fallacy. "Here's my assertion that I'm right, and if you want to prove me wrong do my work for me" is practically a signature; while two people can have similar signatures if you see two or more anonymous people on various articles with very similar 'signatures' then it's probably a fair assumption that it's actually the same person.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 7:52am

    Stephenson added that “If you saw tax rates move to 20-25%, we know what we would do. We would step up our investment rate."

    What he doesn't tell you is that he means stepping up their investment rate in C-Suite salaries, bonuses, and severance packages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      Describing himself as a “supply-side guy,” Stephenson added that “If you saw tax rates move to 20-25%, we know what we would do. We would step up our investment rate."


      As if corporations pay tax ... lmao.

      And ... supply side economics has failed miserably for decades. So, yeah - we all know what you will do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 8:50am

    >to address the needs of this rapidly changing marketplace.

    In other words he will work with us so that we can protect out cable business, or replace the income from it, by screwing with the Internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 9:31am

    Zero rating

    AT&T to go hard on zero rating. Customers to get screwed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 9:32am

    But the problem is that we’ve had regulation that’s unpredictable, and it’s interfering with how we’re designing products, how we enter markets.
    I love English because there's multiple ways to say the same thing, and confuse everyone.

    I read this statement as "But the problem is that we've had regulation that's unpredictable, and it's preventing us from supporting our products, closing markets to competitors, taking from customers and giving to shareholders, to which I have a personal stake."

    Every time I see the AT&T logo dressed up as the Death Star, I feel it's an insult to the Empire, because even they weren't as evil as AT&T.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 9:40am

    looks like reward for nsa secure rooms in att switching facilities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 10:29am

    give them the no net neutrality feeling

    If I provided internet for the capital and white house, and the net neutrality rules were abolished, I throttle the internet connections for the two places down to modem speeds. When they complain or threaten me, hey! destroying those net neutrality rules gives me every right to do this. So have a taste of your own medicine

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 10:42am

    Anti-competition laws

    Why haven't companies like netflix and hulu sued the ISPs based on anti-competition laws?
    Competition law, or antitrust law, has three main elements: prohibiting agreements or practices that restrict free trading and competition between business. ... banning abusive behavior by a firm dominating a market, or anti-competitive practices that tend to lead to such a dominant position.
    Big Telcom is blatantly doing this to online alternatives to cable television.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:11am

    How zero-rating works: You're carrying $100 in twenties in your pocket. Some thug pulls a knife on you and takes your wallet. Out of pity, he leaves you a $20.

    Now, would you consider that being given a free $20? If not, then why claim that zero-rating offers anything for free? All it is is simply scamming less off of you via data caps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:29am

    And Ajit Pai or whatever the dam fools name is still cant see that if the ISPs/ communications companies are falling over themselves in glee for what he's gonna do, if's because it's great for them and a real bad move for the public! Fucking idiot needs sacking befkre he gets started!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Feb 2017 @ 11:36am

    Lets say..

    the 2 persons responsible to/for you...both have a major accident.
    And you are left alone..
    You are a Psychotic young person.. and start looking around and finding things to do..
    Anyone for a dead cat?? poisoned Dogs??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stosh, 2 Feb 2017 @ 12:04pm

    Net Neutrality should have been written on a postcard..

    No internet traffic may be restricted, throttled or priced based on it's content or packet type.

    Done....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John David Galt (profile), 4 Feb 2017 @ 1:55pm

    What good is "net neutrality" if we don't enforce it against practices like this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2017 @ 8:55pm

    You are trying too hard. Your writing style is stilted and dull, you seem yo write mostly to link bsck to your previous stories rather than really hitting a new subject. You could lost most if the first couple of paragraphs and we wouldn't be less informed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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