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New AT&T and ‘Net Neutrality’

AT&T’s Turbo and the Rekindled Net Neutrality Debate: A Professional Analysis

New AT&T and ‘Net Neutrality’

The recent launch of AT&T’s “Turbo” service has reignited a critical discourse surrounding Net Neutrality, a core principle advocating for an open and equitable internet. This analysis examines the situation through the lens of its potential impact on internet access and user experience.

Net Neutrality: The Foundation of an Open Internet

Net Neutrality establishes the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like AT&T must treat all data traversing their networks equally. This translates to a prohibition on throttling (slowing down specific content), blocking access to websites, or prioritizing certain content or services over others. In essence, it ensures a level playing field for all online content and applications.

Shifting Tides at the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governmental body responsible for regulating internet access in the United States. In 2015, the FCC enacted the Open Internet Order, enshrining Net Neutrality as law. However, this victory for open internet advocates proved short-lived. In 2017, a leadership change at the FCC resulted in the repeal of the Open Internet Order, effectively dismantling the legal framework for Net Neutrality.

AT&T’s Turbo: Convenience or Net Neutrality Violation?

AT&T’s Turbo service introduces a new wrinkle into the already complex Net Neutrality landscape. For an additional monthly fee, users can subscribe to Turbo and receive faster mobile data speeds for bandwidth-intensive applications like online gaming, video conferencing, and social video broadcasting. Proponents of Net Neutrality express concern that this offering could violate core principles.

Their primary concern lies in the potential for AT&T to prioritize data traffic for Turbo subscribers, essentially creating a two-tiered internet system where those who cannot afford the add-on experience slower speeds. This could stifle innovation and limit user access to certain online applications and services.

AT&T’s Rebuttal

AT&T contends that the Turbo add-on simply enhances the overall data experience for specific applications by allocating more resources on their network. They argue that it doesn’t prioritize one type of content over another, but rather optimizes data flow for bandwidth-intensive tasks. Additionally, they claim it falls within the current FCC regulations and provides users with a choice to upgrade their mobile data experience for specific applications.

The Road Ahead: Potential Implications

The controversy surrounding AT&T’s Turbo and its potential violation of Net Neutrality principles is far from over. Here’s a professional assessment of potential future developments:

  • Renewed Regulatory Scrutiny: The public outcry over the Turbo service and its perceived violation of Net Neutrality principles could pressure the FCC to re-evaluate the issue. This could lead to the reinstatement of Net Neutrality regulations or the implementation of new measures to safeguard a level playing field on the internet.
  • The Domino Effect: Other ISPs might follow suit with similar tiered data plans, raising broader concerns about a widespread shift away from Net Neutrality principles. This could lead to a fragmented internet experience where access speeds depend on user subscriptions, potentially hindering innovation and competition.
  • Legal Challenges: The FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality in 2017 is still being challenged in court. The outcome of these lawsuits could significantly impact the future of Net Neutrality in the United States.


The introduction of AT&T’s Turbo add-on has reignited a critical debate about Net Neutrality and the future of an open internet. As technology continues to evolve and our reliance on the internet deepens, ensuring equal access and preventing the creation of a tiered internet system will remain a contentious but crucial issue. This discourse has significant implications for consumers, businesses, and the overall health of the online ecosystem.