AT&T Might Hate Title II For Broadband, But Is Happy To Use It For Millions In Refunds

AT&T just won an FCC proceeding against two smaller companies that were illegally charging them fees they should not have been. And while the telecom giant is poised to pick up a few million in refunds, that’s not the interesting part. This is: the section of law that worked out in AT&T’s big giant favor? That’d be exact same Title II that they claim will ruin internet business for everyone.

Ars Technica noticed the ruling. It’s a little bit on the arcane legal side, but the gist is this: AT&T complained that two companies, Great Lakes Comnet and Westphalia Telephone Company, were illegally billing AT&T for certain interstate network connection charges. The FCC looked at the case and agreed with AT&T, which will now get some amount of refund on the millions it paid GLC and WTC.

In this instance, Title II regulation explicitly protected AT&T. Specifically, section 201 of Title II of the Communications Act, which requires that “all charges, practices, classifications, and regulations … shall be just and reasonable,” and that any unjust or unreasonable charge is therefore unlawful.

That’s the same part of the Act — or one of the same parts — that AT&T, among others, is now furious to see being applied to broadband service. Because now broadband customers, including businesses, will be able to complain to the FCC if they feel AT&T (or others) is charging unjust or unreasonable rates for some aspect of broadband service.

It’s far from the first time AT&T has benefited from having a service classified as Title II, while hypocritically continuing to decry it as the end of the internet. In other words, common carrier status on all of AT&T’s non-broadband services hasn’t actually ruined the company, and has in fact proven a significant boon in some ways.

That, of course, will not stop AT&T, and other major cable and telecom ISPs, from strenuously fighting against the new application of Title II to broadband.

AT&T is using the Title II rules it hates to get millions in refunds [Ars Technica]

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