Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Oct 21 2009   2:51PM GMT

AT&T’s Jim Cicconi: Net Neutrality makes 2012 look like a playdate

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

With 1/6th of U.S. jobs tied to America’s Internet infrastructure, Net Neutrality backers puts too much at risk just as the economy recovers, warned Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs.

Cicconi’s blistering attack makes the 2012 trailer look like a playdate compared to what could happen if the net neutrality backers win: Short-term job losses, the degradation of Internet infrastructure, even Internet blackouts. No YouTube, Priceline or ITKnowledgeExchange? I’ll take the riots, earthquakes and John Cusak, thank you very much.

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“It’s very easy for people to make decisions involving other people’s jobs,” Cicconi said at the SuperComm opening panel that was slated to cover stimulus dollars but largely focused on the FCC’s new net neutrality guidelines draft, which is slated to be made public tomorrow. The panel, made up largely of executives from both service providers and equipment vendors, largely concurred with Cicconi’s sentiments (The FCC’s John Horrigan, consumer research director for the Omnibus Broadband Initiative, largely stayed out of that particular fray).

Very often, it’s the creation of jobs that net neutrality backers point to, such as the Open Internet Coalition’s open letter to Congress:

A competitive marketplace creates jobs, helps the American consumer, fosters innovation, and drives economic growth. We must aspire to achieve the world’s most advanced communications networks, building on the tradition of American policy and innovation that created the open Internet. We must maximize competition on next generation networks by guaranteeing access and by ensuring that all networks interconnect and interoperate.

But Cicconi took time to take aim at groups like this and others that are producing favorable net neutrality reports:

I think it is a dangerous illusion for anyone in government to think that more regulation will provoke more investment, not less. There are reports coming out, but these reports … are written by groups that have never run a network, nor do they have discernable investment experience.

The FCC is playing a very dangerous game if it listens to any advice of this nature.

[Net Neutrality] is an important reality check for government: You’re pushed to achieve a Utopian end people have dreamed up, but that’s not how government works. Government works to solve problems … and nobody has made a convincing case that there is a problem here that needs the government to step in.

And this was all what Cicconi publicly said: One can only image what he and Tom Tauke told the private luncheon for telecom decision makers earlier in the day.

Catch up on all of the IT Watch Blog’s SuperComm coverage, or follow us live at @ITKE on Twitter. At SuperComm and have something to share? E-mail me directly at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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