AT&T Snubs Gamers, Calls Gaming an Ancillary Service of Broadband

Posted by | September 22, 2009


Everyone’s favorite company with a logo that looks like the Death Star has weighed in on their own version of anti-gamer, anti-Net Neutrality commentary to the FCC:

In response to a Federal Communications Commission Public Notice seeking comments on how the term “broadband” should be defined, AT&T labeled gaming as an “aspirational” online service.

While basic web-browsing capabilities and email were termed core services in the brief dated August 31, 2009, gaming was lumped in with streaming video and real-time voice services. AT&T noted:

…for Americans who today have no terrestrial broadband service at all, the pressing concern is not the ability to engage in real-time, two-way gaming, but obtaining meaningful access to the Internet’s resources and to reliable email communications and other basic tools that most of the country has come to expect as a given.

This is just a poor argument fielded by AT&T in order to rationalize their rationing of bandwidth sold to customers based on the type of traffic. Worse, it singles out gamers specifically for biased treatment—why is it that any other user, i.e. those who want to download files, read e-mail, surf the web, et cetera buy the same 128kps down rate yet gamers shouldn’t expect to receive the same rate?

This is a problem with all pretense of biasing bandwidth rates based on customer traffic. There is no difference in the amount of traffic of a user who is downloading e-mail at 128kps and a user who is playing a video game transferring at 128kps. It’s telling someone who is taking a shower they cannot receive the same amount of water pressure as someone watering their garden (when both paid for the same water pressure.)

If I buy 128kps from my broadband provider, they sure as hell had better provide me up to 128kps no matter how I’m using it. If they’re unable to deliver me 128kps, what are they doing selling it to me in the first place?

Link, via Gamepolitics; or see AT&T’s full PDF brief.

1 Comment so far
  1. Isky
    November 1, 2009 6:32 pm

    I really appreciate being on wireless internet from .. of all names.. Skynet. They provide me a range of speeds I’m going to get for $50 per month. Because of some difficulties in where I live, most prominent being my huge barn, I typically get slower than average at 1.5-2mbps down and 512kbps up. Sometimes I get more. I rarely get less. I can run servers, download huge files, anything I want. The caveat is that I’m not supposed to go over 10G of transfer per month. However, if I don’t do it often, they let that slide as well – as long as I’m not causing problems for other users in my area.
    This is the benefit to having a small local provider that even makes its own equipment. They are more willing to look at individual situations than just enforce a set of rules with no allowances.
    And, I get better service than what the big companies offer, and now want to restrict based on type of download and upload. It’s ridiculous.
    I completely agree with Helvetica. Bandwidth is bandwidth. How I use it should be up to me, not them, as long as it’s not something illegal like child porn.

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