Anyone who believes no problem exists that requires net neutrality provisions in law, read what the CEO of AT&T has to say.

“If you build it, you have to make a return on that,” he continued. “Nobody gets a free ride, that’s all.”

He and the heads of other telecoms have used that “free ride/free lunch” allusion before and I just don’t get it.

I pay the cable company to access the internet as a consumer. I also pay a hosting company to put this site up on the web.

If all of sudden, this little rant fest became hugely popular (yeah, right :-), I’d be charged more for the extra bandwidth.

If I started downloading a ton of video each month, my cable company would increase my bill (and call the MPAA).

Maybe I’m naive, but I’m assuming the large content providers (Google, YouTube, etc.) pay a lot more than I do to move their content across the internet tubes.

Who’s getting the “free ride”?

Of even larger concern, however, is this little gem from the CEO.

“It’s a much over talked issue [net neutrality]; it will all get worked out and will best get worked out on a commercial basis,” Whitacre concluded.

The history of big business in this country, notoriously including Ma Bell (the roots of the current AT&T), is that they are almost exclusively devoted to the bottom line.

Allowing the big telecoms to work out net neutrality on a “commercial basis” to them means doing whatever they can to get next quarter’s profits higher than what Wall Street expects.

And if that means slowing down or blocking their competitors – or charging content providers to do the same – you can bet they will try.

net neutrality, free ride, big telecom