I can only see peering agreements between companies and ISPs increasing costs for what we would find as acceptable speeds now and choking off innovation online for those except the most capitalized (or connected), and that is a damned shame.
News is traveling quickly of AT&T’s intent to filter copyrighted content on portions of the Internet it controls. It’s been repeated a million times before, but briefly: The New AT&T wants to transform itself into a content provider, serving up Internet TV. Obviously, people trading copyrighted television shows for free over the Internet(s) is a direct contradiction to that business model. Conveniently for The New AT&T, they also have a stranglehold on much of the Internet backbone in the United States. Thus, they’re going to use that capacity and attempt to start filtering out content that doesn’t pass muster as legit.
In other words, The New AT&T is sacrificing itself as a neutral network provider — really, how could they be expected to provide neutral network services and be a content provider at the same time? Where would the incentive be, besides drawing the ire of regulators, to permit competitors on their network? When I say competitors, think YouTube — Alex Curtis believes they could be the first target of a joint Hollywood/AT&T hit. I’m only scratching the surface, too — there is much more to this than just the business angle. What about consumer privacy? (It’s bad enough that they forward traffic to the NSA.) Does AT&T, and only AT&T, reserve the right to regulate what is and isn’t acceptable on the public Internet? The answers to these questions will have a lasting effect on the Internet as we know it.
One thing is for certain: The New AT&T sure seems to be just as sinister as the old one. I hope the regulators get on the horn to AT&T and find out what the deal is, because so far to me this flies in the face of the provisions that were set when AT&T acquired SBC and later BellSouth. I guess they just haven’t learned their lesson from the first time they were broken up…