Why AT&T Says Congress Should Pass a Net Neutrality Law

AT&T says it’s tired of political flip flopping on net neutrality and called on Congress to pass a law that would permanently settle the matter of Internet freedom in a series of full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times and Washington Post Wednesday morning.

CEO Randall Stephenson called on legislators to establish an “Internet Bill of Rights,” guaranteeing net neutrality and an open Internet, insisting the law apply to all carriers.

“It is time for Congress to end the debate once and for all, by writing new laws that govern the Internet and protect consumers,” Stephenson wrote.

In December, the FCC, under chairman Ajit Pai, abolished net neutrality rules created under the Obama administration despite widespread opposition, including from AT&T and Comcast, the two biggest Internet providers. Under the new rules, Internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to create a fast lane and sell “paid prioritization,” a euphemism for normal delivery speeds for content providers who pay ISPs a fee.

The move has caused some states, like Montana, to sign executive orders preventing any ISP with state contracts to block websites or charge for faster speeds.

Different regulations in different states is a nightmare scenario for big ISPs, which is part of the reason behind AT&T’s ad campaign.

“Because the Internet is so critical to everyone, it’s understandably confusing and a bit concerning when you hear the rules have recently changed, yet again,” Stephenson wrote. “Legislation would… provide consistent rules of the road.”

AT&T says it intends to work with Congress as well as consumer advocacy groups to push for the legislation.

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