AT&T has issued a powerful appeal for wireless networks to be left unburdened by any net neutrality rulings, arguing that the dynamic growth of the industry needs to be harnessed, not hindered.
Joan Marsh, vice president of federal regulatory at AT&T, argued in the wake of the net neutrality pitch by Google and Verizon last week that wireless network firms need to be treated in a different way.
"We've been making this point for several months but we can't emphasise it enough: wireless is simply different," she said in a blog post.
"Policymakers can help by reallocating more spectrum for commercial radio service use and, even more importantly, by protecting wireless broadband networks from onerous new net neutrality regulations."
Marsh explained that AT&T expects to see data transmissions reach 3.6 million terabytes a month by 2014, up from 90,000 in 2009, and that wireless networks cannot be compared to fixed network connections.
"Wireless networks simply cannot provide the same amount of capacity as wireline networks. Fibre is to a wireline network what spectrum is to a wireless network. As a transmission medium, the two simply do not compare," she wrote.
"The theoretical top speed of a Long Term Evolution carrier is 100Mbit/s. By contrast, theoretical transmission speeds on fibre can reach as high as 25 million Mbit/s. The five extra zeros tell the story."
Marsh also argued that the net neutrality issue is a distraction from the more important internet issues affecting the industry.
"What might help most of all is for agreement to be reached on net neutrality so we can put that issue behind us. Then we could focus all our attention on a more urgent matter struggling for oxygen right now, the National Broadband Plan, "she said.
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