Recently, the CEO of AT&T said “No one gets a free ride…”The American economy doesn't work that way…We are not going to build this with no chance for a return. Those that want to use this will pay.” This is consistent with his earlier statement, when referring to Google's ability to freely transmit its bits over AT&T's broadband pipes, he said he was tired of Google getting a free lunch.
Enter AT&T's new service to provide streaming live video using MobiTV. The service is pretty straight forward, it allows you to stream a select number of television channels live to a computer, via a Windows Media stream. It will cost $20 to subscribe to the service, but the nice thing is that it works on any broadband connection (provided your speed is sufficient).
That's really the interesting part… You don't have to be using AT&T's broadband pipe to receive the TV stream. You could be on Verizon's, Comcast's, T-Mobile's hotspot, free WiFi on the steps of the Supreme Court, or perhaps even in Mountain View, California on Google's free WiFi network.
As a viable service, it makes a lot of sense to stream the television regardless of the broadband pipe, but if AT&T isn't going to “compensate” those broadband providers for the bits it plans on using, isn't AT&T being a bit hypocritical? They want Google to pay when Google uses AT&T's pipes, but what about AT&T paying when AT&T uses Googles wireless pipes?
Maybe AT&T hopes to abide by net neutrality when its using other folks' pipes, but ignore it when those others are using AT&T's pipes. If their MobiTV service were blocked or degraded by another pipe owner, I wonder what they intend to do?