Moments after landing in Chicago for SuperComm 2009 and making my way to the McCormick Place, I was invited (with glossy print invitation, no less) to join in a “lunch conversation” with Jim Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, and Tom Tauke, senior vice president for public policy and external affairs for Verizon, two heavy weights of the same stripe from two telecoms that, lately, are using every tactic they can to steal the other’s thunder.
Verizon Wireless’ latest telephone campaign, Droid Does, is a direct attack on AT&T’s iPhone dominance, and they’ve also been running those cheeky “We’ve got a map for that” parodies (not that any of it’s hurt AT&T so far).
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So what could bring the two warring wireless behemoths into such close quarters and at allied aims? No less a specter than Net Neutrality itself. Tom Tauke kicked off the discussion by reminding the small gathering that, as the FCC unveils its network neutrality proposal tomorrow, “There is no broadband without broadband investment.”
At this point, I was kindly escorted out of the room and informed the lunch was closed to the press (there had been no notice of this on the invitation I’d been handed nor the lunch room entrance). The meeting wasn’t the first Tom & Jim show, and unless the proposal tomorrow is radically different than what anyone is expected, be prepared for more frenemies-with-benefits as the giant telecoms try to knock any teeth out of the final Net Neutrality guidelines, both from behind closed doors and out in the public spotlight.
Have any hot tips from SuperComm, or thoughts on net neutrality, AT&T, or Verizon? Leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.