Some of you youngsters may not remember what really kicked off the big “net neutrality” fight over the past few years. It was back in 2005, when then AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre suggested that internet companies should pay a second time to reach users. This was particularly nefarious. What Whitacre was suggesting was actually that AT&T get to double charge everyone. That’s because the way it was (and still) is that everyone pays for their own bandwidth — including the big internet services like Google. However, the best way Whitacre was once describing it, the bandwidth you were given best paid for half the transit. that is, you simplest paid for your bandwidth out of your premise to “the cloud” however now not back out to any end device. That that bandwidth used to be paid for via whoever owns those finish devices was once completely disregarded. So the plan used to be no longer just that Google may pay for its personal bandwidth, however that Google might additionally pay in your bandwidth to get Google for your pc (ignoring that you simply already paid for it).

That didn’t move over so well with folks, and got in particular ridiculous whilst Mike McCurry, working an AT&T lobbying effort, insisted that Google didn’t pay a dime for its bandwidth. For slightly evident reasons, he refused my proposition that he conform to pay Google’s bandwidth expenses.

Either way, it appears that the brilliant minds at AT&T have been trying to devise a new way to present such a plan that doesn’t leave them so open to charges of being greedy double chargers — and they may have found it by focusing on the mobile world, with their new love of “tiered” and “capped” plans that limit how much bandwidth you actually get. What they’re going to do is charge app makers a fee to offer their services to you in a way that the data doesn’t count against your cap. They describe it as an “800 number for the mobile internet.”

“A feature that we’re hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage,” Donovan said on the sidelines of a mobile-industry conference here. It’s far from clear how willing technology companies would be to pay wireless carriers for data use. Mr. Donovan said there was interest from companies who could use the feature to drum up new business from customers wary of using data-heavy services like mobile video.

This is nefariously brilliant. other people affiliate 800 numbers with toll-unfastened phone calls, so it’s more or less like that… except for it isn’t anything else like that at all. It’s just a solution to get firms to pay for the information connection you’re already procuring. however the finish result’s exactly like what Whitacre sought after five years ago: get the app suppliers to pay double for bandwidth. Karl Bode summarizes the whole ridiculous plan as only he can (by way of that link above):

The end result is the same, with AT&T imposing bizarre tolls on content companies to obtain preferred customer status, picking winners and losers while retaining power in the wireless ecosystem.

It’s an concept we’re sure AT&T will pitch as a price-saving undertaking for shoppers, but given that is AT&T, you’d be naive to suppose value financial savings might be within the equation. You’ll nonetheless pay the similar data charges, content material companies will now just pay a fee to acquire most well-liked “diminished cap affect” standing, then move the upper construction prices directly to you. It’s a daft and threatening concept, and the fallout shall be very similar to AT&T’s “unfastened journey” feedback. AT&T executives either don’t care how bad these concepts cause them to glance, or don’t realize it thank you too many remoted meetings at headquarters filled with telco-suppose yes males.

Eventually you begin to think that AT&T executives should just smost sensible thinking sooner than they harm someone or themselves. If AT&T positioned part as so much energy into working a top-flight community with quality give a boost to as they did cooking up hare-brained troll toll schemes — they may simply stop coming in remaining place in all top consumer satisfaction research.

This is really just another reason why the telcos are pushing so hard to move users into unnecessary tiered plans — because they can’t pull off scams like this on unlimited data plans nearly as easily.