Leveraging Acquisitions, AT&T May Jettison Net Neutrality

“To say that AT&T was once the nation’s largest phone company is a bit like describing the Pentagon as America’s leading purchaser of guns and bullets. Until its government-imposed dissolution in 1984, AT&T enjoyed a market dominance unlike that of any corporation in modern history, rivaling only state monopolies in size and scope.

“Now — after a series of acquisitions and re-acquisitions so tangled it would take Herodotus to adequately chronicle them — AT&T is back, it’s big, and according to consumer advocates and some of the nation’s largest technology companies, AT&T wants to take over the Internet.

“The critics — including Apple, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — point out that AT&T, along with Verizon and Comcast, its main rivals in the telecom business, will dominate the U.S. market for residential high-speed Internet service for the foreseeable future. Currently, that market is worth $20 billion, and according to the Federal Communications Commission, the major “incumbent” phone and cable companies — such as AT&T — control 98 percent of the business. Now many fear that the phone and cable firms, with their enormous market power, will hold enormous sway over what Americans do online.

“Specifically, AT&T has hinted that it plans to charge Web companies a kind of toll to send data at the highest speeds down DSL lines into its subscribers’ homes. The plan would make AT&T a gatekeeper of media in your home.”

Farhad Manjoo. The Corporate Toll On The Internet. April 17, 2006.

See also:

James S. Granelli. Phone, Cable May Charge Dot-Coms That Want to Race Along the Internet. April 9, 2006.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

04/18/2006 at 08:50

Posted in Web & Online

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