Net Neutrality on Deck

There's been heavy traffic over the Net Neutrality wires since the November 4 Election of Barack Hussein Obama, and it's not just because the president-elect was so outspoken in support of the principle while on the campaign trail.

There has been a sea change in Washington since then, as the wonks, tech pundits and lobbyists align themselves with new leadership and the likelihood that Net Neutrality could become law soon.

Holding to His Pledge
Obama in the Front Seat
Within two days of the election Obama's transition team laid out his science and technology agenda at
, prominently highlighting the work that
have prioritized for more than two years now.

According to the agenda, an Obama administration will hold to its campaign promises and "protect the openness of the Internet."

"A key reason the Internet has been such a success is because it is the most open network in history. It needs to stay that way," Obama's agenda states. "Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."

Soon thereafter, former Vice President Al Gore
that he was "all for" Net Neutrality.
Gore 'All For' It
"I just think that it's unacceptable to have the folks that control the pipes to get into anything that smacks of controlling the content, or favoring their content over other content," Gore said.

Legislation for 2009

And just yesterday, a top staffer for Sen. Byron Dorgan told the media that the senator plans to introduce Net Neutrality legislation in the new Congress.

"We feel that legislation is definitely necessary," Frannie Wellings, telecom counsel to Dorgan said during a conference in Washington. (Disclosure: Wellings worked with me at Free Press before joining Dorgan's staff)

Dorgan is influential as one of the highest-ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

AT&T's New Tune?

Obama, Gore and Dorgan's support is no surprise. What's "mind blowing" according to some in the media, is AT&T's apparent change of heart.

At the same conference, AT&T's lead policy VP, James Cicconi, said, "There's a lot of people who now believe that companies like AT&T are not plotting to overthrow the open Internet concept."

"It's against AT&T's economic interest to block or slow Internet content, because customers demand an open Internet, he added. "Our core asset is our network," he said. "We get paid for carrying bits."

This is from the same company whose former CEO called all of us "nuts" for wanting to use his "pipes" without paying a special access fee.

"There has been no larger, stauncher opponent of Net Neutrality," a surprised Jason Lee Miller writes about AT&T recent rhetorical change up.

"Hasn't [Cicconi] heard his bosses speak about it?" Miller asks, describing their earlier "desire to discriminate between content providers," as well as their willingness to spend tens of millions of dollars on "K" Street firms that "actively lobbied against any such openness."

That was then. This is now.