WATPA: FW: AT&T Sets Up Internet Tollbooths

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Tue Mar 07 2006 - 23:36:39 EST

AT&T Sets Up Internet Tollbooths
MARCH 07, 2006 (LIGHT READING Magazine -- "Networking the Telecom Industry"

As it grows in size and scope,
<http://www.lightreading.com/complink_redirect.asp?vl_id=502> AT&T Inc.
(NYSE: <http://www.lightreading.com/quote.asp?symbol=T&req_mode=quote> T -
y=T&thread_title=T> message board) says it will also be among those carriers
building tollbooths for its last-mile broadband networks.

The telco giant's product development and sales teams are now busy designing
"packet prioritization" products for sale to content providers that depend
on AT&T last-mile networks to deliver services to consumers. Such products
reserve a "fast lane" on AT&T's networks for the safe and speedy transit of
traffic from whichever company is paying the toll.

Put more simply, AT&T's new products will give preferred treatment to some
Internet services over others. And defenders of network neutrality fear that
the services of smaller content providers that cannot afford to pay QOS
(quality of service) fees might become less available to consumers. (See
<http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=86495> QOS Fees Could
Change Everything and
<http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=88572> Crocodile Tiers.)

"We're developing new IP managed services which will give content providers
the high-quality, high-bandwidth transport they increasingly need to deliver
video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive applications and services to
their customers," said AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk in an email response
to a Light Reading inquiry last week.

"I've got no specifics on what those product lines or those services might
look like or anything," Pacholczyk wrote. "We have had discussions with
content providers, as we've said in the past, for these kinds of services."
(See <http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=89779> Net Neutrality
Debate Wydens.)

AT&T officials complain of receiving more and more Internet traffic from
"originators" like
<http://www.lightreading.com/complink_redirect.asp?vl_id=3068> Level 3
Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:
<http://www.lightreading.com/quote.asp?symbol=LVLT&req_mode=quote> LVLT -
y=LVLT&thread_title=LVLT> message board) while being compensated under
"existing peering agreements," according to a note from
<http://www.lightreading.com/complink_redirect.asp?vl_id=7535> UBS Research
. Like its phone company peers, AT&T sees the new packet prioritization
products as a means of making back some of that lost revenue. (See
<http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=88650> Policy Control Heats

The carrier believes its offer of an "end-to-end" service-level agreement
(SLA) will be attractive to many Internet content providers, especially
those that deliver content to wireless devices. AT&T hopes the product will
also increase uptake among content providers of its hosting and transport
services, the UBS analysts write.

AT&T officials discussed its packet prioritization plans during its February
23 analyst briefing, and now that the company is striving to merge with
<http://www.lightreading.com/complink_redirect.asp?vl_id=675> BellSouth
Corp. (NYSE:
<http://www.lightreading.com/quote.asp?symbol=BLS&req_mode=quote> BLS -
y=BLS&thread_title=BLS> message board), the implications of those products
and services will be noticably broader. (See
<http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=90080> Ma Bell Is Back!.)

The telcos and their trade-group representation in Washington have long said
they "have not and will not" block or degrade any type of legal Internet
traffic. Their critics believe the new fees are but passive ways to control
and monetize Internet traffic flowing over the networks they control. (See
<http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=86825> Light Readers Favor
QOS Fees.)

"The BOCs... are looking for ways to make packet prioritization look
legitimate," says
<http://www.lightreading.com/complink_redirect.asp?vl_id=7869> Voice On the
Net (VON) Coalition president Staci Pies. "Creating artificial bandwidth
scarcity by saying that the 'new, upgraded' fiber Internet is available only
to application providers that are willing to pay for higher levels of
quality of service is one way."

Verizon spokesman David Fish says his company has no plans for setting up
QOS fee arrangements with Internet companies, although Verizon CEO Ivan
Seidenberg has come out in favor of the practice. AT&T has also made sharp
statements about its right to the QOS fees, and is proving to be more
aggressive than its peers in putting the words into action.

- Mark Sullivan, Reporter, <http://www.lightreading.com/> Light Reading


Received on Tue Mar 7 23:36:50 2006

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