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AT&T Says Sponsored Data No Threat to Net Neutrality

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 10:27am
Ben Munson

AT&T doesn’t see anything wrong with a little sponsored data.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, issued a statement on his company’s controversial proposal and claimed sponsored data service is aimed solely at benefitting customers. He assured that the program is voluntary and non-exclusive.

 “It is an offering by that company, not by AT&T.  We simply enable it.  The bottom line is that this can save money for our customers.  We see no reason why this is not a good thing,” Cicconi said in the statement.

Cicconi added that AT&T is confident the FCC will see things that way, too.

“We are completely confident this offering complies with the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which our company supports,” Cicconi said in the statement.

AT&T’s response comes after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler twice this week stated the Commission will carefully watch the sponsored data program and intervene if it finds the practice in violation of Open Internet Order.

At CES, Wheeler promised to look into the matter. Speaking at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, he said ““I am not interested in protecting competitors from competition, nor am I interested in presiding over a festival of rent seeking.”

The widespread criticism of AT&T’s sponsored data is that it could create imbalance and allow large internet companies to buy preferential treatment over smaller companies or competitors.

In a blog post, Public Knowledge called the practice “just a win for AT&T” and a “tremendous loss for everyone else.”

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