This doesn’t really surprise me, and it shouldn’t surprise you either. At&T hasn’t wasted any time in rolling out their new features that go directly against net neutrality. I say that I’m not surprised because this is who this plan is going to benefit, isn’t it? Or am I wrong? AT&T has expanded their “sponsored data” program to prepaid wireless customers, offering content companies the option to “sponsor” their data so that it doesn’t count against users’ caps. But how does this make sense? The program is in some ways a benefit to AT&T’s subscribers, but the policy flies in the face of the principles of net neutrality.
By offering some services for free and not others, AT&T gives a large advantage to those apps and companies, because their customers will be much more likely to use them than competitors they’d have to give up data to use. AT&T sent out the following message to subscribers:
“Now your plan includes sponsored data. This means, for example, that customers who have DIRECTV or U-verse(R) TV can now stream movies and shows with the TV app without it counting against their plan data.”
This is putting these companies in the driver’s seat to offer whatever they want. Honestly, it’s not a bad move from the perspective of the provider, but this is garbage for the consumer. Interestingly enough, the three services that support AT&T’s sponsored data are owned by AT&T – DirecTV, U-verse, and Fullscreen (which wasn’t mentioned above). If you’re an AT&T wireless customer deciding between DirecTV Now and a competitor, like Hulu or Sling TV, this program is going to give AT&T a huge advantage.
So you can see why this might not be fair to the “little guy”. I mean, these other companies aren’t little, but in general, this means the giants are going to get everyone’s business. How can you compete with this kind of offer? You can’t. Which is what people had been complaining about to the FCC. This also flies directly in the face of a statement AT&T made just last year when it was trying to persuade consumers that the FCC’s net neutrality repeal wouldn’t be the end of a free and open internet.
“AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic,” according to executive, Bob Quinn.
But is this all that open and transparent? They’re basically offering paid fast lanes to companies. Which kind of discriminates against anyone else wanting to use the internet. Think of it like anything else in this world – if you are willing to pay more, or buy into a certain group, you are going to get some member benefits. In this case, you are getting priority service, and this my friends, is discrimination.