AT&T rebuffs Netflix CEO's net neutrality defense

Summary:The debate over net neutrality is starting to take an ugly tone.

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It probably isn't often that AT&T and Verizon Wireless find themselves to be allies, but net neutrality might be one subject on which their interests align.

In direct response to a pointed memo by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday, AT&T's public policy chief Jim Cicconi presented a rebuttal on Friday.

Much like Hastings, Cicconi doesn't mince words in defending the stance of the nation's second largest wireless provider, which essenitally boils down to the somewhat rhetorical question that headlines the memo, "Who Should Pay for Netflix?"

Here's an excerpt:

As we all know, there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free delivery of streaming movies.  Someone has to pay that cost.  Mr. Hastings’ arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix.  That may be a nice deal if he can get it.  But it’s not how the Internet, or telecommunication for that matter, has ever worked.

To recall, Verizon Wireless won a court challenge to net neutrality rules , leading the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to send the rules back to the FCC in January.

This immediately sparked a debate about the future of the Internet as the move essentially means broadband companies would be able to charge tech companies, such as Netflix or Hulu, more money for fast connections needed to deliver their services.

It's up to the FCC now to rewrite the rules. In February , FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal he asserted will preserve the Internet as "an open platform for innovation and expression."

If there is one company that would benefit from the upholding of net neutrality, it is Netflix.

Topics: Networking, AT&T, Government : US, Legal, Telcos

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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