The certainty of net neutrality regulation could be hard to settle now that the government, advocates and adversaries are tangled with each others’ charges.
Providers like AT&T and other ISPs emerged as victor when the Federal Communications Commission successfully dismantled the net neutrality regulation forged during the Obama administration. The current FCC commissioner Trump-appointed Ajit Pai replaced it with his Restoring Internet Freedom which, according to him will “close the digital divide.” Did it?
The implementation of the new net neutrality regulation took place in June of this year. It gave more power to ISPs to take control of their business procedures including blocking and throttling of contents not to mention paid prioritization. When the 2015 Open Internet is still in place, there are no reports of consumers complaining but when it was repealed incidents of ISPs’ blocking and throttling of contents became rampant.
One unforgettable incident is the throttling of the Santa Clara Fire Department’s data during an emergency by their provider, Verizon. The company knew of the exception but did nothing and continued with their awful operation. Another incident is the throttling of video streaming services by most major ISPs. It was discovered with the use of the Wehe app that revealed the slowing down of Netflix, Hulu, and others.
Because of these, advocates from different sectors fight to restore net neutrality regulation that Pai and his agency nixed in December 2017. Different states in the US like California proposed and passed their own net neutrality regulation to continue protecting their people from the ISPs’ dishonest business procedures. However, due to the state’s strict guidelines, the Department of Justice sued the state. In response, the Bear Republic agreed to postpone its enactment of the law until the issue has been settled. The law should have taken effect on January of next year.
Federal cases are pending which include the lawsuit filed by 22 state attorneys general against the FCC which tried to preempt states from passing their own net neutrality regulation.
In AT&T’s point of view, true net neutrality regulation is far from being achieved. Several AT&T executives insisted before from previous posts that the company will not block, slow down, or corrupt internet traffic established on content. It also claimed not to create slow and fast lanes on anyone’s internet. However, it retains paid prioritization for fast developing services including remote surgery, autonomous cars as well as and first-responder communications. They said that they want to prevent the holding back of those modernizations by stringent regulations.
AT&T expressed its commitment to the exact foundations as proponents of an open internet. But its assurance is frequently rejected or impugned by the net neutrality advocates. The company is also always depicted as the “ogre under the bridge” ready to crush on creative startups.
To show its sincerity towards net neutrality regulation, CEO Randall Stephenson even called out to Congress to legislate an “Internet Bill of Rights.” It is a bill that will administer to all internet companies and assures openness, transparency, non-discrimination, neutrality, and privacy protection for all internet users.
Meanwhile, AT&T will no longer tender prorated credits to subscribers who will remove particular services before the end of their billing period. The transition will take place on January 14, 2019. It will be applicable to AT&T Phone, AT&T Internet, DirecTV, U-verse TV, and Fixed Wireless Internet accounts.
There are, however, a couple of exceptions upgrades, downgrades, and switching between the company’s services in California, New York, and Illinois. This also includes AT&T Internet, AT&T Phone, and U-verse TV accounts in Michigan.
No matter when the service is canceled, subscribers will still be charged the total amount and the service will carry on until the end of the billing period. The company had the policy already in place for its mobile service but is now employing it in a large-scale.