Friday, April 27, 2007

Whitacre is out at ATT

It's now become clear why ATT is pushing so hard to charge web sites for faster download speeds -- they have to pay for the ginormous retirement package of their CEO, Ed Whitacre, who announced he's stepping down today. I'm joking, but if you think your company's matching funds for your 401k look pretty good, check this out (from the Financial Times):

Mr. Whitacre will receive a retirement package totaling $158.5m according to the company's proxy filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission – one of the largest pension packages ever unveiled.

In addition, he will receive $24,000 a year in benefits to cover car costs and $6,500 a year for home security, and will be entitled to use the company jet for 10 hours a month.

Of course, ATT and the other big telecoms plans to do away with net neutrality may have sailed forward, if it wasn't for Whitacre. Whitacre will be remembered by many for helping jump start the net neutrality campaign by making an incredibly boneheaded comment to Business Week in 2005 (he was then head of SBC). He's speaking of Google and other web content providers in the following graph:

"Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using.

Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts"

Net neutrality supporters have cited the comment so often many have probably memorized it. I even heard a rumor there's a song that samples the statement, but I haven't been able to track it down.

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