The good folks at Slashdot are up in arms over this CNNfn story that claims AT&T “is considering a plan to charge Internet retailers a commission each time a customer buys something through the telecom’s broadband network, an industry analyst said Monday. AT&T would also collect a fee from retailers each time a customer accesses their site through its network.”
The article, and a similar one at Yahoo are a bit unclear on exactly what AT&T is proposing to do. The way the articles are written, they strongly imply that AT&T is going to charge back any online merchant who sells something to an AT&T broadband customer. On the other hand, AT&T could just be talking about selling web merchants special positioning on its high speed network and charging back just those merchants.
I strongly suspect the latter, since I think the former is probably technically unfeasible, and one of the AT&T spokesman compares the new plan to PocketNet, a system whereby AT&T sends spam ads to people who use their wireless phones.