AT&t said Thursday it will discontinue paying internet providers for speedier access to customers, ending an era that began with the advent of the first internet connection.
The announcement was made during the company’s annual investor day, in which executives touted the company as the world’s leading provider of internet service.
AT&ts shares dropped 3.5% to $26.90 on Thursday.
AT+ fell 4.9% to close at $31.82.
AT says it has been charging internet providers fees since 2005.
AT’s Internet Access program, which offers customers high-speed broadband, is a model of competition that’s been criticized by some ISPs.
AT said it was taking steps to address the issues with its pricing.
The company said the move will save customers about $1.8 billion in 2016, which it said was the largest savings of any U.S. carrier.
The decision comes as AT&s internet speeds have been increasing.
AT and Comcast Corp. have said they are committed to delivering faster internet to their customers.
AT has been a vocal critic of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which are meant to prevent internet providers from charging for faster speeds.
The FCC’s new net neutrality order requires internet providers to provide internet speeds at least as fast as the fastest available wireless internet connections.
AT is fighting the order in court, saying it would be a violation of its contract with the government and force it to give up the exclusive right to sell internet service to cable and phone companies.
The carrier said Thursday that it is taking steps for a variety of reasons to protect the investment in its broadband infrastructure, including a more streamlined process for issuing permits, and more competition in the broadband industry.AT&ts said it would stop charging internet service companies for faster internet access to consumers by the end of this year.
AT customers who currently pay $30 a month for its internet access service will be able to pay a flat fee of $40 by the middle of 2018.
AT claims the change will help it to retain more subscribers.
“The decision to make this transition reflects our long-standing commitment to ensuring that we continue to deliver the best internet experience for our customers,” AT&.
said in a statement.AT said it expects the change to reduce costs for the company and help keep it competitive.
The move comes after the FCC said it is preparing to regulate ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act, which regulates internet service and telecommunications companies.
The commission said it plans to impose new regulations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including whether they must pay for access to the internet.