AT&T agrees to net neutrality for two years

Net neutrality is the principle that companies providing access to the Internet cannot discriminate between customers. For instance, consumers get the exact same service from their homes as ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, HBO, Disney, and Dreamworks. Telecom companies claim that they cannot build the advanced Internet of the future unless they are able to charge extra for premium access. Net Neutrality advocates argue that the Internet was originally developed and built with taxpayer monies and should be seen as a public utility and that it has become, in essence, the public square of the twenty-first century. A multi-tiered system of access would not only limit free speech but also limit important new technologies. What would have happened if YouTube, MySpace, and Flikr had had to pay for premium service? What about the blogosphere?

In order to win approval for its $85 billion merger with BellSouth, AT&T has agreed to observe net neutrality for two years, a window of opportunity for advocates to lobby Congress for a law enshrining net neutrality as a guiding principle of the Internet. It will also put pressure on other telecom companies to follow AT&T’s lead. See: AT&T-BellSouth deal called “breakthrough” for consumers.

Below are some podcasts and web sites concerning net neutrality that you might find interesting.

Video from Save the Internet Coalition

Commercial from the Cable and Telecommunications Association

Don’t Regulate coalition that includes AT&T and BellSouth

Robert McChesney on COPE Bill working its way through Congress (on Democracy Now, May 8, 2006)

NetCompetition.org coalition that includes AT&T, BellSouth, and other cable and telecommunications firms
—Fred Rowland

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