Verizon: Open Internet Rules Are 'Essential'

Verizon—which challenged the FCC's 2010 Open Internet order and won, which prompted the FCC to come back with Title II-backed rules—says it is OK with the ban on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization and even the general conduct standard, all of which it says are "essential" for it to thrive going forward.

In a blog post in anticipation of the U.S. Court of Appeals coming out soon with its ruling on the latest challenge to Open Internet rules, Craig Silliman, executive VP for public policy, points out that Verizon owns the Huffington Post and MapQuest, among others, and so has a content stake in an open Internet

As it points out, the court could uphold the rules, strike them down, or some mixed decision—say upholding them for wired but not for wireless.

In any event, said Silliman, Verizon can support rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, and the general conduct standard, which it says are "fair, even-handed, good for consumers and essential for us and others to thrive going forward."

Verizon was clearly looking to mend some fences with the FCC. "In the past we have criticized the FCC for applying outdated rules to the fast-moving Internet ecosystem," said Silliman. "We still think that’s true, but let’s be fair: Congress hasn’t updated the FCC’s toolbox for over 20 years, so the FCC is working with the only tools it has, however inadequate."

But he says Congress can and should give it those tools, and also says that is possible given the "strong bipartisan" support. There is definitely bipartisan interest in doing something to clarify the FCC's net neutrality regulatory authority, but just how to do it remains the key stumbling block, as was seen recently in the bipartisan urge to clarify that it isn't going to impose rate regulations, but the very partisan divide over how such a bill should be worded and what it should cover.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.