The Day The Telco Blinked

It happened so fast you may have missed it.  Late last week AT&T posted a change to its mobile data plan that indicated it would start throttling down peer-to-peer sharing.  This would affect phone-call apps like Skype. Within a day, after public outroar from customers like you, they apologized and retracted it.

Sound familiar?

First, yes, it’s similar to what happened at FaceBook–a company tries to pull something onerous, only to retract it after consumers find out.  That said, Facebook is a small, agile company.  This is AT&T, one of the most intractable telcos out there.  Historically it’s taken years of work in court to get AT&T to change its ways.

Second, it’s another battle in the fight for an Open Internet.   Last year, Comcast tried to throttle regular peer-to-peer applications like Skype, and the FCC called them on it. AT&T was mucking with its mobile data plan, but the motive is the same–force people to use the carrier’s more expensive services rather than letting them get their work done.

What AT&T and Comcast should be realizing is that this type of throttling is now on the wrong side of the economic debate.  An Open Internet keeps us productive and competitive.  Skype lets people make cheap phone calls.  Video sharing lets people do web-conferences.   Efforts to stifle communications strike at the heart of America’s productivity and competitiveness in the world.

The fight continues. Follow the story and let your representatives know this matters to you.  An Open Internet will ensure we can all get our work done and succeed.

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