There are times I worry that I go a little too far attacking AT&T on this blog. Sure, it's a greedy corporation that doesn't care about its customers and resists innovation. Sure, its service sucks and it buys influence in Washington to make sure it has no competition. Sure, it has a terrible history of suppressing technology and ethically questionable business practices. But it isn't "evil." I mean, a corporation can't be evil.
But just when I think I've gone too far, AT&T goes out of its way to prove that it is in fact: evil. Here's the latest news:
So, after sucking up every internet provider they could, after lobbying to expand their monopoly on American internet traffic, AT&T now feels it is ready to do what it has longed to do for a long time. Kill the internet as we know it. This is no longer speculation. It's very clear that AT&T's long term plans are to meter (thus control) all internet traffic, both cell and land based. This is exactly what people like me have long been saying was going to happen, and now AT&T is announcing it.
I'll be writing more extensively about this for some time, but let's just be clear on the main points:
1. Putting a data cap on land lines is just the first step in creating a "pay per bit" model for the internet.
2. "Pay per bit" completely would change the internet.
3. The only way AT&T can get away with a "pay per bit" model is to have an de-facto monopoly (by concluding with other big American telecoms).
4. Moving to a "pay per bit" model will hurt America's competitiveness in the world, and is radically dangerous to free speech.
There can be no illusions anymore about AT&T's big plan. They've been hinting at it by fighting net neutrality. They've been preparing for it by buying competitors and taking over markets. And now they are implementing it. Anyone who is aware of AT&T's history can see what it's coming, and should be scared. This is our worst nightmare come true. If we don't actively fight this, AT&T (and its business partners in collusion) will completely dictate what we can access on the internet and for how much.