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AT&T To "Pause" Gigabit Internet Rollout Until Net Neutrality Is Settled 308

An anonymous reader writes AT&T says it will halt its investment on broadband Internet service expansion until the federal rules on open Internet are clarified. "We can't go out and just invest that kind of money, deploying fiber to 100 cities other than these two million [covered by the DirecTV deal], not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed," AT&T Chief Randall Stephenson said during an appearance at a Wells Fargo conference, according to a transcript provided by AT&T. "And so, we have to pause, and we have to just put a stop on those kind of investments that we're doing today."
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AT&T To "Pause" Gigabit Internet Rollout Until Net Neutrality Is Settled

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  • yeah... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why should we upgrade when we don't really have to?

    • Why should we upgrade when we don't really have to?

      Because if they don't, someone else will. That's why you also need laws to block local communities from arranging their own local services, you see.

      I'm not normally a huge supporter of the world of corporate politics, but in this case, I hope the likes of Google call their bluff and cost them a staggering amount of money.

      • Re:yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @08:20PM (#48374363)

        Because if they don't, someone else will.

        This is a joke, right?

        No, someone else WON'T, and that's the whole problem. The vast majority of the U.S. has one, and only one, decent low-latency broadband provider. The big ISPs divided it up that way on purpose where they could. Heck, they even said testified as much to the FCC, even though dividing up the country that way is an illegal anti-competitive practice.

        I'm all for market solutions... when there is a real, competitive market. There isn't, in most of the U.S.

        • This is a joke, right?

          Um... Yes. I kinda figured that was obvious from next sentence. Oh well.

        • Re: yeah... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Um . . no.

          AT&T is NOT a proactive company. Never has been. The ONLY reason Gigapower is being deployed is due to the threat from Google deploying their own solution and whisking away all of AT&T's customers in the process. Think about the timing of it all and realize it's merely an " oh shit " reaction to Google's announcement ( bluff ? ) to introduce high speed broadband in select cities.

          The recent announcement of Metros rolling out their own Wi-Fi will only hasten this along.

          There is another pr

        • Re:yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @02:03AM (#48375935)

          This is a joke, right?

          Yes, it clearly was actually...

          The vast majority of the U.S. has one, and only one, decent low-latency broadband provider.

          No, the vast majority has two: cable (DOCSIS) and telco (DSL). Though currently in all but a few lucky areas with FIOS, etc, the telcos (like AT&T) are way behind cable. The point of AT&T's upgrade is to finally ditch the ancient copper lines and leapfrog cable.

          The big ISPs divided it up that way on purpose where they could.

          Again, no. The telcos have a monopoly because copper was installed to homes about 100 years ago via the only phone company in existence, the original AT&T. Their markets were "divided" by the antitrust breakup of AT&T, not a bunch of telcos deciding where to offer service.

          Cable has a bit different history, but also had ZERO to do with "ISPs" since the Internet didn't *exist* when cable infrastructure was built into most cities. And in this case the cities are the ones who decided which cable company would get the franchise. Not to mention back then there were hundreds of smaller cable companies - it was almost the opposite of the telco evolution, probably in fact *becuase* of backlash to the AT&T monopoly. And of course it's the US government's fault as much as anyone, now, that those baby Bell telcos were allowed to recombine back into AT&T and Verizon and the cable companies to consolidate into the 5-6 that dominate the market.

          Don't get me wrong, I hate the shitty policies and practices of cable and telco companies as much as anyone, but I'm also a realist. If anyone else wants to compete at this point they will either need to spend massive amounts of money to build the infrastructure (we can only hope Google can pull it off), or come up with some completely new technology/infrastructure (metro wifi, LTE+, etc) that is cheaper to deploy.

  • Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:19PM (#48373411)

    Yeah, right, AT&T. You were totally about to give us awesome internet but the big bad government stopped you? Please.

    • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by halfEvilTech ( 1171369 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:22PM (#48373439)

      Kind of hard to pause something the said they wanted to do. Which means they didn't even start it. Maybe notes on the back of a napkin. But that would be giving them to much credit.

      This is about holding customers hostage on promised upgrades and throwing a tantrum over possible Title II reclassification. Even though they already enjoy the benefits of Title II (subsidies) without having to be classified as such.

      • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Informative)

        by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:24PM (#48373463)

        hey maybe they can just return all the fucking money they took to provide broadband and never did all these years

        • By what incentive would they want to do that? Everybody just got done reelecting their servants back into office. I don't see how AT&T is the problem. The voters gave their consent through apathy and complacency. Those that deny that are only fooling themselves.

          • Right, if only we had all gotten out and voted for Lizard B things would be better, it's not like *he's* in the pocket of all the same corporations.

            There is something to be said for voting - it lets us have some influence over which direction the government takes us so long as profits and power aren't on the line. But until we can figure out a way to get candidates elected without massively well-funded election campaigns and/or hold them accountable for campaign promises we're basically just voting for wha

        • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @11:15PM (#48375235) Homepage Journal

          hey maybe they can just return all the fucking money they took to provide broadband and never did all these years

          Yeah, let's go back to the money that Pacific Bell got, let alone Southwestern Bell. I'm sure that there's similar stories in other regions. But I consider AT&T on the hook for that. Pac Bell was claiming they would provide DSL to 100% of their customers back when they were still a thing. Over a decade later and the company that bought the company that bought Pac Bell still hasn't done it. They've spent a lot of customer money to erode customer rights, though. I wish people would stop giving them money when there's any alternative.

      • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:57PM (#48373803) Homepage

        Yeah, it's hard to see this as anything other than a threat, that if the government doesn't do what AT&T wants, they might just take their ball and go home. I can see how someone would think this is fair, in the sense that businesses can't make good decisions without knowing what "the rules" are, but at the same time, you can only take that so far.

        It seems like businesses and rich people are constantly pulling this act. "I'm afraid that if you tax me at all, I'll just have to pull all my money and business out of the country and operate someplace where they don't have taxes." or "Well, we can't have laws barring us from acting immorally and unethically. If we can't be completely unfettered, then we can't get anything done and our business will fail!" At some point, I think we just have to say, "Sorry, but we can't just let you do whatever you want with no boundaries. The reality is, we all operate within constraints, and we all have to cope with an uncertain future. If you can't operate with fair and honest business practices within a framework that allows our society to grow in a healthy direction, then we'll find someone else to fill your shoes." I mean, really, AT&T doesn't see the benefit in growing and upgrading their network? Fine, let's rip their network out and replace it with public infrastructure. I suspect that if those were the options, AT&T would find that it could manage to upgrade their network while operating within the principles of net neutrality.

        • No *YOU* have to operate with constraints. My buddies and I all bought a six-pack of senators each specifically so that WE don't have to. I don't see why this is so hard for you to understand. We make the laws, you obey them, everybody's happy. At least everybody who matters. The rabble gets a little uppity from time to time, but throw a good "real life disaster" novella on the newsreel and they'll be *begging* you to abuse them some more. Just look what we accomplished thanks to a handful of fundamen

      • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@noSPam.worf.net> on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @07:02PM (#48373847)

        Kind of hard to pause something the said they wanted to do. Which means they didn't even start it. Maybe notes on the back of a napkin. But that would be giving them to much credit.

        This is about holding customers hostage on promised upgrades and throwing a tantrum over possible Title II reclassification. Even though they already enjoy the benefits of Title II (subsidies) without having to be classified as such.

        Exactly.

        It's all about politics. Even if AT&T never had any plans for gigabit internet, just saying they are "pausing" puts pressure on the government.

        Because now the other party will just go and say "Look, it kills jobs and investment" even though it killed 0 jobs and $0 investment because they never intended to do it. It's just to say "look, we WERE going to, but this new legislation makes it hard for us to justify, so no".

        Strictly a political play - try to call them out on it by saying "we'll refund you the cost of the equipment you already ordered when you made the announcement" and you'll find there were no POs issued, no supplier got any order from AT&T for gigabit-capable equipment, etc.

      • No link to the actual announcement, but Techdirt says AT&T, "announced yet another $3 billion fixed-line CAPEX investment cut just last Friday [techdirt.com]."
        In other words, they cut investment, then hear from the President, then blame the cut on the President's plan.
        Typical AT&T bullshit.
        • by ZipK ( 1051658 )

          In other words, they cut investment, then hear from the President, then blame the cut on the President's plan.

          The reason that AT&T is pausing their gigabit rollout is that their networks are already fast enough to hear the future!

      • by tippen ( 704534 )

        Kind of hard to pause something the said they wanted to do. Which means they didn't even start it. Maybe notes on the back of a napkin. But that would be giving them to much credit.

        Really? The 900 Mbps+ up and down I enjoy at my house from AT&T Gigapower is imaginary?

        AT&T pausing their gigabit rollout when the President announces that he wants to make broadband a utility is completely reasonable. They have no idea what is going to happen, so it is hard to justify continuing to spend $$$ with the network upgrades.

        Now, that's COMPLETELY different than not rate-shaping different types of traffic or trying to double-dip by charging both the sender and the receiver for traffic.

    • I think it's more of an admission they'll only give you fast Internet if they can absolutely make sure you can't use it.

      • by ksheff ( 2406 )
        Or if Google announces another Google Fiber city that would take a lot of their existing customers. Then they'll roll it out, but just in that market. The sooner that ISPs are required to lease their infrastructure to rivals, the sooner that customers will have real choices and the result is lower prices and higher speeds like in other nations. Until then, they will milk their customers for all they're worth with the existing offerings.
        • If Google announces fiber in a city that they don't own via a bunch of anti-competitive legal nonsense.

        • by stdarg ( 456557 )

          You want to make it so that if Google goes to a new city and builds an awesome new fiber network, that AT&T gets to least that network from them? Why should AT&T upgrade anything if they can just wait for Google? But why would Google upgrade anything if they're doing all the investment and then AT&T gets equal benefit?

    • Exactly, total BS that only and I mean ONLY those who are bought and paid for by the big telecom lobbies and those who are completely stupid will fall for this.

  • of only they had some competition in this country.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      AT&T UVerse is the main competition for your local cable monopoly. But only where they already operate. I use them. They're only OK. But it's really nice to have a choice other than Time Warner.

  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:21PM (#48373429) Homepage Journal
    AT&T. I would hope Comcast or someone would take this news and announce they'll be expanding service to try to edge out AT&T, but we're much more likely to just end up and an announcement from Comcast that they'll do the same thing.
    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      yup i think all big ISP should actually shut their doors in response to this. its time to reinvent the local ISP

    • That assumes that any of these ISPs are competing with each other. It's a cartel. I'm sure Comcast and AT&T have an agreement, however explicit, to have each others' backs against any form of government regulation that would force net neutrality.
  • ...shrugs.

    • Wasn't the guy in 'Atlas Shrugs' supposed to be some kind of genius, super-motivated captain of industry and metallurgical innovation before his work was destroyed by nihilistic collectivist parasites?

      The analogy might be giving AT&T a bit too much credit, given that they've been slacker oligopolists with minimal interest in doing any actual work for some decades, if not longer.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:24PM (#48373473)

    AT&T has found a new excuse to not invest in their infrastructure.

    I'm not an AT&T customer, so I can only assume that AT&T does not ask its customers to pay for bandwidth (e.g. it gives its services away for free), and AT&T relies on content providers for all of its profit? That's the only situation I can imagine where such behavior makes sense.

  • by andywebs ( 701336 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:25PM (#48373483)
    They were never going to widely deploy 1Gbps anywhere, in the first place. They had stated to share holders that their capital expenditures would hardly go up to implement this in 35 cities, meaning they weren't really going to be doing very much anyway, other than uncapping existing fiber from dsl speeds.

    http://www.dslreports.com/show... [dslreports.com]
  • The investment climate won't change so entirely that this investment will be a poor one. I'm quite sure they can always find a way to monetize their product.

    This seems more about politics and political pressure than about any solid business reason.

  • I guess that stopping deployment will cancel some of those exclusive franchise agreements and create openings for municipal or less dominant providers to fill the void. I for one hope that AT&T "pauses" more deployments. And their use of the word "pause" is rather funny in that they haven't deployed hardly anywhere yet. It's just strong armed media manipulation is all.
    • Lies. They've deployed Gigapower advertising to a large number of service trucks! They've deployed a gigapower website, where you too can go to learn you also can't get Gigapower!

  • by duck_rifted ( 3480715 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:26PM (#48373503)
    We pay for infrastructure expansion with our taxes, and ATT is legally obligated to spend that money as mandated. Considering that they are blatantly telling us that they refuse to do that, I think an audit is long overdue.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      he said, speaking mostly to the wind. The wind never answered back and no audits ever occurred.

  • As far as anyone can tell they just promised it in markets to dampen municipal efforts to build out their own or aid potential competitors. They might as well promise not to fire their deathstar.

  • AT&T doesn't want re-classification, so they're making it seem like infrastructure costs will be increased by it.

    It seems to me that by remaining under TItle I [fcc.gov] and being able to throttle user data for arbitrary reasons, they would incur higher operational costs to support that capability. Re-classification under Title II [fcc.gov] could require them to allow packet transit without throttling or other arbitrary "management." It would also require them to sell (not give away) service in non-discriminitory ways.

    So

  • Rephrased, AT&T just confirmed that their financial plans including deliberately breaking the would-be net neutrality rules. I mean, if they weren't, it wouldn't affect their plans at all.
    • You can foresee the pig fuck that 'net neutrality' will become in the hands of the clueless federal bureaucrats?

      Seriously, we can define QOS so it's not in violation of net neutrality. What do you figure the odds of DC morons getting it right? What damage will the misregulations cause?

      • You can foresee the pig fuck that 'net neutrality' will become in the hands of the clueless federal bureaucrats?

        Seriously, we can define QOS so it's not in violation of net neutrality. What do you figure the odds of DC morons getting it right? What damage will the misregulations cause?

        Please give me the name of just one ISP/transit provider/Tier 1 provider/etc. that honors QoS tags from networks other than their own. Just one. I'd love to hear about it. But I won't, because it doesn't exist.

    • The headline rephrased for truth:

      AT&T confirms its future business plans depended on being able to double-dip subscribers AND content providers for payments.

      or perhaps with the correct context:

      AT&T confirms its future business plans depended on being able to shake down content providers for bandwidth subscribers already pay for.

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @06:37PM (#48373597)

    "We're going to stop doing that thing that we've been promising for years that we were gonna get around to doing one of these days, but never actually got around to doing, because OBAMA"

    It's sad, but adding "Obama" to any argument has become the modern day equivalent of the "Chewbacca Defense", and has been used to rationalize some profoundly stupid decisions. Even sadder, because it seems to work.

    I'm a moderate (r)epublican, and it's *lonely* nowdays. The intelligent ones liked David Frum have been muffled or sidelined. Meanwhile, the Wingnut Brigade as personified by Ted Cruz is always on the lookout to shoot the public in the foot for the sake of rich people.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As good as your post is, I can't help but add that for over a decade now the Democrats are the moderate Republicans.

    • I'm a moderate (r)epublican, and it's *lonely* nowdays.

      The other people like you are called Democrats. They have long since stopped being the party of the actual left.

    • You are not "a republican". You are not "a democrat". Those are abbreviations for political parties. Unless you actually see yourself as strongly advocating for republican or democratic forms of government, you are not what you say.

      You might say you support the XXX party. But don't delude yourself, they don't support you, and you are not them.

      Republican party is not a philosophy. Democrat party is not a philosophy. You can't even agree or disagree with them. They are corporations (literally) that buy

  • Let me be the first to welcome Google to these 100 cities!

  • While it is very easy to poke at AT&T for this decision, it is also a very understandable position to take. AT&T doesn't know what the laws or rules are going to be after the fact. We are probably not going to get true Title II net neutrality, and quite frankly, 80 year old law really shouldn't apply to something that is fundamentally more complex than a telco or OTA network, and applying the same kinds of laws to the internet providers is legally and technically stupid. There are a variety of ve
    • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @07:01PM (#48373831) Homepage Journal

      If there was any indication that their 'plans' were ever more than paper, we might not laugh so much at the concept of pausing them. That's like taking time out from your sleep to get a quick nap in.

      I was going to cure cancer and create the fountain of youth today, but I had to put those plans on hold because the Easter Bunny told me that some retail stores would be open on Thanksgiving.

    • While it is very easy to poke at AT&T for this decision, it is also a very understandable position to take. AT&T doesn't know what the laws or rules are going to be after the fact.

      Actually, they know exactly [wikipedia.org] what the laws and rules are. Until 2002, they were covered under TItle II and some portions of their network still are.

      We are probably not going to get true Title II net neutrality, and quite frankly, 80 year old law really shouldn't apply to something that is fundamentally more complex than a telco or OTA network, and applying the same kinds of laws to the internet providers is legally and technically stupid.

      Saying that the law [wikipedia.org] setting up the FCC is 80 years old is like saying that the 27th Amendment is 225 years old. The law [wikipedia.org] has been amended numerous times to address technological change, the latest of which was the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [wikipedia.org], with numerous additional amendments proposed since then, but never enacted.

      There are a variety of very good reasons why Title II, or Title II-like laws are a very, very bad idea for the internet.

      Please tell us what those "good reasons" a

      • by zlives ( 2009072 )

        "Did I miss anything important?" just the part where | ATT Good, net neutrality BAD|

        • "Did I miss anything important?" just the part where | ATT Good, net neutrality BAD|

          My mistake. Thanks for the clarification. I keep forgetting that unfettered crony capitalism good, gub'mint bad.

          I guess we should get going and abolish the EPA, the FDA, the FTC, the FCC, the IRS, the Departments of Justice, Education, HUD, Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, HHS, Transportation, Energy, Veterans Affairs and Interior, sell all the National Parks, privatize the Interstate Highway system, amend the constitution to allow only the Federal government to "regulate" business. That will leave much mo

  • If they want to keep making money and not get trounced by the competition, they will eventually stop their bluff/tantrum and come back to play ball. Remember that their only current, likely avenues for growth are broadband and mobile, and mobile is probably very slow, if not at a stand-still. They can only pull this off if they no longer want to grow at a significant rate.

    You can say that their competitors could do the same thing if they become Title II, but someone will choose to take the growth even under

  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @07:02PM (#48373845)

    ...You know the rest.

  • It's the Public Utility issue. Their profits become whatever the government will allow.

    • As a consumer, not seeing much downside in that one. Can only mean we get rates that resemble the rest of the world. The tellcos have a long history of being money grabbing douche bags--at least here in the US. They got slapped for this with the Ma Bell breakup. They didn't learn. An intervention is long overdue.
  • ...against net neutrality?
  • You would have to be pretty stupid to think that this matters a damn.

  • Be a shame if something happen to it.

  • I would love to see Government (Federal, State & Local) start providing high-speed internet to its citizens, the same way there are municipal water companies and power companies.

    Perhaps they could embed the signal on the power lines.

    • Good idea. Lets see:
        New ToS- All packets will flow into a government data center to be analyzed before being forwarded onto their ultimate destination. Seems like a good idea to me.

      And even better when our politicians get in a bitchy mood they can shut down the government mandated monopoly to get us to pay them more money. No thank you

  • by C3ntaur ( 642283 ) <[centaur] [at] [netmagic.net]> on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @07:25PM (#48374031) Journal
    Seems to me that if ISPs want to selectively favor content, they should be held responsible for *any* content passing through their systems. Start throwing their execs in prison for distributing whatever illegal material passes through, and watch how fast they scramble to be classified as common carriers.
  • So, let them pause the gigabit rollout. Then Google can come in and beat them to the punch. Arrogance and greed has a way of being thwarted by karma.
    • Municipal roll out is more likely. Google's just playing the role of the irritating fly. They don't have any serious inclination to do a mass roll out of Google Fiber.
  • With Project Lightspeed ( aka their DLS rollout ). I say call them on their bluff.

    • With Project Lightspeed ( aka their DLS rollout ). I say call them on their bluff.

      Dude, that was Pacific Bell. Unless AT&T did it all over again, many many years later, with the same name.

  • by CauseBy ( 3029989 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2014 @08:49PM (#48374503)

    Are you saying that if we mandate net neutrality, AT&T will close up shop and blow away in the wind? Two birds one stone! Let's make this happen!

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