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AT&T CTO Donovan: We Need Non-Discrimination

“Outside applications need to be on an equal footing with our own applications,” John Donovan said at a SUPERCOMM keynote here in Chicago. “My jaw dropped,” one of his colleagues told me a few minutes later, because this is a reversal of AT&T’s long-standing position they needed to be able to favor their own applications. AT&T D.C. needs to listen closely to their own CTO, because they are throwing everything they have in D.C. at preventing “non-discrimination” being included in the FCC Net Neutrality regulations.

Apps are critical to the success of the iPhone, which “is transforming AT&T’s entire network and business,” again according to a colleague. He knows that the (mostly) open platform of the iPhone is necessary to give iPhone apps access, which in turn is crucial to the success of AT&T wireless. Donovan suggests that a similar openess will make a dramatic difference across the business. If they discriminate in favor of their own video, games, or whatever comes next, developers will be hard to attract.

John is still new to AT&T, and clearly is “thinking different.” His handlers apparently forgot to tell him what not to say, so he explained AT&T’s strategy straight, not filtered through his (extremely effective) D.C. lobbyists. Presumably, an angry phone call from D.C. now has told him to shut up.

Ed Gubbins at Telephony has the quote as “We use the principle of ‘us on us,’” [Donovan] said, referring to AT&T services on AT&T’s network. “If we take an external developer and ourselves, we should not be advantaged in how long it takes or how much expertise is required. It needs to be that simple, because that would put the foundation in place for how to horizontalize all your platforms in a way. Far enough is when you’re on equal footing with anyone that externally would be looking to bind your network. Whether you’re reaching for physical assets, logical assets or into the IT systems, I don’t think it needs to be that complicated. You just have to say, ‘Is us on us the same as them on us?’ ... We have to prepare our networks for a world where the user experience is going to be [controlled by] any number of different companies unique to the individual user.”

Richard Epstein can make a sensible argument against Net Neutrality (government will screw things up,) but the AT&T advocates in D.C. apparently can’t. At least one said equal treatment would be impossible, foolishly contradicting his CTO, SVP, and CEO Ed Whitacre testifying in the Senate. Kim Hart reported DC opinions that U-Verse spending would be decimated if the rules went through, a silly notion. Cable is clobbering them where they don’t have U-Verse and they can’t afford to cut it back.

By Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime

Dave Burstein has edited DSL Prime and written about broadband and Internet TV for a decade.

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The objection is poorly written anti discrimination rules George Ou  –  Nov 6, 2009 4:58 AM

When you ban good network management

Kill existing business models

And you single out ISPs from competing at all in the content distribution market by prohibiting them from offering any kind of premium delivery services such as CDN, the new regulations aren’t so enlightened anymore.

In that context .. Susan Crawford resigned .. Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Nov 6, 2009 11:57 AM

And very suddenly too. Interesting speculation here .. and yes I know the spectator is as right wing as you can get (even got greeted with a popup ad where Michele Malkin reads it and asks that you donate to it). Even if I could vote in a US election (I can't) I wouldnt vote for Bush, even less for Palin, and the fox news commentators disgust me. That said .. this rings a bit too true for the usual right propaganda. Yes there's a slant, but .. yes, the network neutrality rules as originally proposed, and even now, don't make very much sense to me. And "Its the internet stupid" didnt make all that much sense to me either. Thread at http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200906/msg00019.html and my comments at http://www.circleid.com/posts/its_the_internet_stupid_i_disagree/ http://spectator.org/archives/2009/11/02/for-petes-sake

But White House sources say that she ran afoul of senior White House economics adviser Larry Summers, who claimed he and other senior Obama officials were unaware of how radical the draft Net Neutrality regulations were when they were initially internally circulated to Obama administration officials several weeks ago. "All of sudden Larry is getting calls from CEOs, Wall Street folks he talks to, Republicans and Democrats, asking him what the Administration is doing with the policies, and he isn't sure what they're talking about," says one White House aide. "He felt blind-sided, and Susan was one of those people who heard about it." In the end, the proposed regulations were slightly moderated from the original language FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, a Crawford ally, circulated. Crawford resigned, citing the need to return to her tenured position at the University of Michigan law school, but White House sources say that when Crawford signed on to the administration, she told them the university had given her a two-year waiver before requiring a return. "There may have been miscommunication there, but we thought it was two years," says the White House source. Similar waivers -- usually two or three years -- were given to a number of academics who joined the Bush Administration in various positions back in 2001

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