It was in April of 2015 that AT&T had decided to take legal action against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in order to challenge the agency’s implementation of new net neutrality rules that were just recently published in the Federal Register at that time. Fast forwarding a couple of years and the second biggest wireless carrier in the United States is now joining a huge movement protesting the rollback of those same net neutrality rules.
In the world of mobile, things do change fast. Two years after AT&T had tried to sue the FCC in federal court to ditch the new net neutrality rules, it is now uniting with 70,000 other online companies, advocacy organizations, and individuals in telling President Donald Trump’s administration to let the rules be. This massive protest is also joined by other globally recognized tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Mozilla.
For those not familiar with the protest, it is being dubbed as the Day of Action, and it was basically organized after current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai (appointed when President Trump took office back in January early this year), announced plans to reverse the implementation of the net neutrality rules. These regulations were passed in 2015 by a Democrat led FCC (then chaired by Tom Wheeler), for the purpose of hindering broadband service providers from favoring their own content over their rivals’ offerings. According to the rules, no provider is allowed to slow down or block a competitor’s traffic, or charge a fee to have an offering delivered faster.
When the rules were passed in 2015, it treated broadband services as a public utility. Naturally, broadband providers and mobile operators opposed the ruling, including AT&T, who claimed that by changing the classification, broadband is now under an outdated law that will prevent companies from fostering innovation and investment in this particular field.
So why is AT&T protesting the rollback of something it was supposed to be opposed to? In a recent blog post, Bob Quinn, the senior vice president of AT&T, explained that the carrier was joining the protest because it agrees that there should be fairness in the use of the information superhighway. He further added that the case it filed against the FCC was for contesting the legal basis of the 2015 ruling, which revolved around an 80 year old law that may no longer fully apply in the digital age.
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