AT&T Stops Fiber Upgrade Over Net Neutrality Fight

AT&T's plans for bringing fiber connections to 100 cities is on hold because the company doesn't feel comfortable moving forward while the future of Net Neutrality regulations are up in the air. The FCC is considering its oversight options for the companies providing Internet connections, Verizon is threatening legal action depending on what decision the Commission makes, and the White House is pushing for strict controls.

AT&T drops plans for fiber rollout over Net Neutrality debateAT&T drops plans for fiber rollout over Net Neutrality debate

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told investors on Wednesday he doesn't think moving forward with the fiber rollout makes sense while so many questions about ISP regulations are still up in the air, according to Reuters.

"We can't go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed," he said. "We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like."

President Obama is calling for what's known as Title II oversight where the FCC classifies ISPs as common carriers and regulates them as such. That would mean strict oversight and no option for companies to charge premiums for certain types of data traffic while throttling others.

Verizon is hoping for more lenient regulations that give it the power to charge Netflix and other content providers extra for pushing their videos and data to end users. If companies don't pay up, their content will be throttled, giving viewers stalled and choppy videos.

Taken to the extreme, companies like Verizon could charge premiums to end users for services — such as Web searches — that come from competitors.

Since a resolution on how to deal with Net Neutrality hasn't happened yet, Mr. Stephenson isn't interested in deploying high speed fiber without knowing exactly how he can monetize the investment. For AT&T's customers, that means faster data connections they have been hoping for won't be coming any time soon.

The FCC won't be voting on how to proceed until some time in 2015, so don't hold your breath waiting for AT&T's fiber rollout.