AT&T asserts paid prioritization rights to FCC

AT&T has called on the Federal Communications Commission to protect the right of Internet service providers to charge steeper rates for expedited delivery of special types of Web traffic, a major fault line in the debate over net neutrality.

In a letter to the commission dated Monday, the telecom giant argued that the Internet Engineering Task Force has a longstanding mechanism that provides for paid prioritization, or quality-of-service agreements.

AT&T billed its letter as a response to a recent filing from Free Press, in which the media-reform group and staunch net neutrality supporter argued to the commission that ISPs should not be permitted to strike side deals with content providers for preferred delivery.

Hank Hulquist, vice president of AT&T’s federal regulatory division, also took to the company’s policy blog today to decry what he described as the “Church of Extreme Net Neutrality,” by which he meant Free Press and other like-minded groups.

“When it comes to data-driven policy making, there is no room for faith-based initiatives,” Hulquist wrote.

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