AT&T, Facebook agree to disagree on Google-Verizon deal

AT&T and Facebook are the two latest companies to speak out on the net neutrality proposal put out by Google and Verizon on Monday, and their opinions of the deal appear to be on different sides of the argument.

At an investor conference, AT&T consumer and mobile chief Ralph de la Vega called it a "positive sign" and the right step forward to help the industry come to a reasonable agreement.

He seemed to echo the central precept of the proposal, saying that net neutrality should be settled by legislators, not the FCC. The FCC may still push forward to reclassify broadband so it can legislate it, but de la Vega mused that he hoped "we don't get to that."

It should not be altogether shocking that AT&T would have a similar position to that of Verizon. Both companies carry a significant amount of the US' Internet traffic, so net neutrality rules are likely to affect them most.

AT&T was also part of FCC closed-door negotiations on the subject, which included Google, Skype, Verizon, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. The agency ended those talks last week, calling it "productive" but not able to generate a framework from which to work from.

Smaller ISPs like Level 3 Communications seemed to echo AT&T's sentiments, however it did express concern that its larger rivals would be allowed to charge extra for bringing broadband to underserved areas under the agreement, which typically are served by the larger carriers.

Facebook took an opposing stance on the proposal. The social networking site's issue seemed to surround the exemption of wireless traffic, which it said should be treated no differently. "Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks," spokesperson Andrew Noyes said in a statement.

Interest groups have also weighed in on the deal, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation calling its exception for additional online services "troubling," and also pointed to the wireless exclusion as a cause for concern.

"There shouldn't be a distinction between the neutrality available on wired services and that available on wireless services," legal director Cindy Cohn wrote on Tuesday.

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