Originally published: March 25, 2014
Last updated: April 24, 2014 - 10:12pm
[Commentary] AT&T is making a bold promise to consumers: If the Federal Communications Commission drop its attempt to strengthen network neutrality, subscribers will actually pay less for Internet than they would otherwise. The gist of AT&T's argument is that the rise of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as streaming video, puts undue burdens on the company. If content firms like Netflix paid their fair share, broadband providers could reduce the cost to consumers. The implied threat, however, is that your Internet bills could actually go up if content companies refuse to pay a toll. A standoff seems inevitable. But there is a third option: ISPs could accelerate upgrades to the country's broadband infrastructure now. It's not like they can't afford it. In 2013, AT&T turned a profit of $49 billion. To say that regulators must decide between increasing costs on companies like Netflix or raising prices on consumers is to present a false choice. Rising demand is a fact of the industry. Meeting that demand is what network operators are built to do.