AT&T steps up net neutrality lobbying campaign

According to FCC filings, AT&T (NYSE:T) has intensified its lobbying campaign against net neutrality rules for wireless and wired networks.  

According to the Washington Post, AT&T executives met with or placed calls to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's office eight times in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president of external and legal affairs, has met with Edward Lazarus, Genachowski's chief of staff, on five separate occasions since Nov. 17. The actions appeared to culminate in a telephone call between Genachowski and Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman, CEO and president, on Nov. 23.

AT&T has been one of the most consistent and vociferous opponents of net neutrality rules.

AT&T isn't alone, however. FCC staff also has met recently with representatives from MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), which also opposes net neutrality for wireless, as well as representatives from Public Knowledge, the Open Internet Coalition, and Amazon, which all favor net neutrality rules. Representatives from Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and the National Cable Television Association also have reportedly met with agency officials.

Last week the FCC decided to delay its December meeting from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21, a move the commission said will give it more time to finalize its agenda for the meeting. The decision to postpone the meeting increased speculation that some kind of net neutrality proposal will be voted on next month. The FCC has not indicated whether it will decide on the issue this year. In January the new Congress, which is likely to be more hostile toward net neutrality, will be sworn in.

AT&T's Cicconi has expressed to the FCC that if the agency does pursue net neutrality rules, the rules should be modeled on legislation Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) drafted earlier this fall. Waxman's bill largely went easy on wireless carriers. According to the draft bill, wireless Internet providers would not be able to block consumers from accessing lawful Internet websites, subject to reasonable network management. They also would not be able to block "lawful applications that compete with the provider's voice or video communications services in which the provider has an attributable interest, subject to reasonable network management."

Further, wireless carriers would have to "disclose accurate and relevant information in plain language regarding the price, performance and network management practices" of service, "sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service and device providers to develop and market new Internet offerings."

For more:
- see these FCC filings
- see this Washington Post article

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