The Danger of Dogma

Posted by: Hank Hultquist on August 31, 2010 at 11:22 am

One of the central dogmas of the Church of Extreme Net Neutrality (CoENN) is that quality of service on the Internet, or using the preferred nomenclature of the CoENN, “paid prioritization,” is the equivalent of a deadly sin.

The CoENN creed against quality of service states that paid prioritization of Internet traffic: (1) has never been contemplated by standards organizations like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); (2) does not exist on the Internet today and, to the extent it exists anywhere, is probably being used nefariously by the pagans; and (3) if it did exist on the Internet, it would be available to and affordable for only a small number of deep-pocketed hegemons.

These iniquities of paid prioritization are spelled out in a recent filing at the FCC in which Free Press preaches the old time religion of the dumb network.  But, like so many dogmas, this one turns out to be, well, not exactly true.

Which leads me to the letter we filed yesterday in the FCC’s Open Internet proceeding to correct the record with respect to paid prioritization.  In a nutshell, we point out that, contrary to the CoENN’s claims: (1) the IETF documents clearly contemplate and permit differentiated pricing of Internet traffic based on the use of prioritization; (2) paid prioritization of Internet traffic is widely available to businesses today; and (3) such prioritization is often voluntarily purchased by small and medium-sized enterprises, including minority-owned businesses and community organizations. 

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Gateway to the Future of Video

Posted by: Chris Boyer on August 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

Earlier this year, I wrote about AT&T’s plans to enable AT&T U-verse TV subscribers to use their Xbox 360 (and, potentially further down the road, Windows 7 PCs) as a U-verse set-top box (STB).  I also talked about how those plans had the potential to be responsive to FCC Chairman Genachowski’s call for more innovation in the video device marketplace, which in turn could increase broadband adoption.

In April, the FCC initiated a proceeding to review whether or not video providers, such as AT&T, should be required to install a gateway device in subscribers’ homes that would enable third party retail devices to access video services over the home network without the need for a STB on each TV.  We recently filed reply comments in this proceeding.

AT&T has long emphasized that it is not interested in serving as the exclusive provider of equipment for our U-verse TV service.  To the contrary, our goal is to maximize the inherent flexibility of offering a 100% IPTV-based service that provides cutting-edge content and applications over a broad range of devices and across multiple screens.

We have engaged in a series of discussions with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), spearheading the development of IPTV interoperability principles and co-chairing CEA’s IPTV Oversight and Coordination Committee.  This group included IPTV, cable and content providers, satellite operators, and consumer electronic companies, and was tasked with ensuring the development of interoperability standards for IPTV.

These efforts culminated in a proposal for a “carrier gateway device” similar to what the FCC has proposed.  However, to the extent that this model has foundered to date it has been because of an impasse over the extent to which a CE device would replicate the user interface or “look and feel” of the video service. 

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Playing the Role of Matchmaker

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on August 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Authored by Marianne Strobel, AT&T Executive Director of Supplier Diversity

At AT&T, we are proud to have achieved some of the highest supplier diversity spending results in the country.  In 2009 alone, we spent $6.9 billion dollars, or 14.2 percent of our total procurement, with diversity suppliers.  This spending supported 37,722 external diverse small business jobs, and 14,271 external women-owned small business jobs in the economy.

That’s why we have partnered with leading business organizations and our large suppliers to launch a series of Business Matchmakers to bring opportunities to small, minority, women-owned and service-disabled veteran owned businesses.  Earlier this month, in keeping with our long-standing commitment to supplier diversity, we held an event in Washington, D.C.to help connect local minority-owned businesses with purchasing representatives from AT&T and several of our company’s prime contractors.

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A Few More Thoughts on Wireless

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I got a lot of reaction to my original blog entitled Wireless is Different.  Some good, some critical, but all of it important to the debate.  I welcomed it all, especially the responses from those that disagreed, because it creates an opportunity for a better explanation, a more detailed understanding of what’s actually happening out there on our wireless networks.

Some just are not convinced that wireless is in fact different in any way that matters to the net neutrality debate.  While they didn’t rebut the fundamental points I made regarding the finite nature of wireless network capacity, they viewed the argument as a strawman for some underlying intent by wireless network providers to block apps and services at their whim.  At its core, this opposition is rooted in a fundamental concern about who is going to control the apps and services that wireless network providers deliver over their finite and shared wireless infrastructure.

The answer to that is quite simply:  the customer.  User consumption is fueling the new mobile broadband revolution and there is not a wireless network provider out there doing anything but trying to keep up.  Again, let’s turn to some facts. 

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Wireless is Different

Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

It’s now day four of the aftermath of the Verizon-Google net neutrality announcement and the number of voices weighing in on the matter continues to grow.  Monday’s news fanned what was already a passionate discussion.  And it also brought into focus a critical aspect of the net neutrality debate – the treatment of wireless networks in any net neutrality regime.

There is much misinformation out there about this issue, as well as a genuine lack of understanding about the limits technology and physics impose on wireless networks.  It was therefore a pleasant surprise to read Fortune’s take on the matter.

The article’s opening line sums it up: “Unrestricted access rules for wireless networks would hurt users more than help them. They just don’t realize it.”  We’ve been making this point for several months now but we can’t emphasize it enough:  wireless is simply different.

Wireless broadband is an extraordinary technology and has led to countless innovative (and really cool) mobile services.  It has completely altered how we communicate, play, consume news and information and watch videos. It plays an enormous role in our daily lives, and it will continue to do so at an ever-increasing pace.  But we have huge challenges ahead, defined by the ever-constant struggle between capacity and demand.  

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