AT&T Pulls Back on Fiber to 100 U.S. Cities Over Net Neutrality Fight
What AT&T is also doing, he said, is giving residents in those 100 cities where high-speed fiber network installations are being halted lots of reasons to call their legislators to demand action on net neutrality so that the high-speed capabilities can finally arrive in their communities. "I think it's smart of them to put the pressure on where people will respond with votes," especially since 2016 is a big election year, said Maycock. "They can say, 'Hey, if you live in this area, put pressure on your political leaders to get this moving.'" It's likely that other telecommunications and Internet companies will follow AT&T's lead on this issue, he said. Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said that while he understands AT&T's public stance on the matter, it's actual more "political theater" than real substance."If this was serious, they'd basically be cutting their own throats from a competitive standpoint" because installing these systems take a long time, said King. "If they put a kibosh on this, they are going to be putting a delay on whatever comes down the road. What I think this really is, is a studied effort on their part to give their allies in Washington a stick [with which to] to beat up the president and other net neutrality supporters." In October, officials from AT&T, Comcast and Verizon told U.S. leaders that they do not plan to offer faster Internet access, or so-called "fast lanes," to content producers who are willing to pay more to get their messages out in front of competitors' transmissions, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The issue of net neutrality has been a hotbed for several years, with proponents and opponents arguing their positions and bashing the opposition verbally in public forums and discussions. In September, the FCC announced that it had received a record 3 million comments about proposed rules for net neutrality by a Sept. 15 deadline. While Obama was running for the presidency in 2007, he pledged to support net neutrality if elected.
The reason for his skepticism, he said, is that by actually halting spending on fiber installations, AT&T could potentially put itself behind schedule on such work and give competitors a chance to gain big advantages in those communities.