AT&T vowed to join scores of internet companies in a widespread online demonstration to promote net neutrality, despite its long-standing opposition to current FCC rules on the issue.
In a company blog, Bob Quinn, SVP of external and legislative affairs at AT&T, said the operator supported the idea of an open and free internet, even though it did not agree with current restrictions on how service providers must deal with internet traffic.
The majority of protesters taking part in the action are campaigning to retain rules AT&T is fundamentally against, which FCC chair Ajit Pai is looking to dismantle.
AT&T has long criticised FCC rules stating ISPs must treat all internet traffic equally and are unable to prioritise specific services over others – including by zero-rating certain offerings.
The operator faced numerous investigations and the ire of the FCC over claims it flouted rules on the open internet. In 2015 it was one of a number of companies to file lawsuits against the FCC in a bid to get the regulation overturned.
Quinn defended AT&T’s participation in the day of action backing the current rules: “This may seem like an anomaly to many people who might question why AT&T is joining with those who have differing viewpoints on how to ensure an open and free internet. But that’s exactly the point – we all agree that an open internet is critical for ensuring freedom of expression and a free flow of ideas and commerce in the United States and around the world.”
Day of Action
The net neutrality Day of Action was arranged by a group of organisations in the wake of an FCC vote in favour of overturning the current laws, which is now under public consultation.
It will see some of the largest online companies perform a range of stunts in an attempt to persuade the public to back their campaign and petition against the FCC’s plans.
Anticipated action includes users being derected to website landing pages giving examples of the restricted access, including excessive buffering and a general slowing down of services.
The websites will then offer links to the FCC’s consultation for users to register their opposition.
Companies participating include Amazon, Netflix, Twitter and Trello, alongside a range of internet freedom-focused organisations including the Internet Association – which counts eBay, Google and Facebook among its members.