Verizon: Time for Net Neutrality Legislation

Verizon joined the ISP internet day of advocacy chorus for legislation clarifying the FCC's broadband regulatory authority.

That came in a blog post from D.C. senior VP Will Johnson. 

As were other ISPs, Johnson/Verizon applauded the passion of those taking part in the day of action. But Johnson said that the issue has for years been mostly about slogans and rhetoric that did not result in internet protections.

"Like those participating in the Day of Action, Verizon supports the open Internet," he said. "But it is important to distinguish agreement on a goal from honest debate on the best means to achieve that goal," he added.

He cited the fake news that bad actors are looking for ways to spread online. "We suspect most of the groups taking part in the Day of Action—would vehemently disagree with regulating Web sites like public broadcasting stations as a way of addressing the issue. Right goal, wrong approach."

Johnson said it was the same with the Title II push. Right goal—a neutral internet—wrong approach: imposing 1930s regs on ISPs.

"It’s in all of our interests to ensure that consumers can access the legal content of their choice when and how they want. It also is in all of our interests for businesses to have certainty so they can invest in networks and create new products and offers with confidence," he said. "And providers throughout the Internet ecosystem should be able to expand and grow their networks and services without fear of being cut-short by regulation."

To ensure that, suggests Johnson, Congress has to step in. "We encourage all the participants in today’s Day of Action to join us in urging Congress to bring this decade-long issue to a close. Open Internet protections deserve to be written in ink, not pencil."

Verizon has a particular rooting interest in regulatory certainty. Arguably it was Verizon's successful court challenge to the original non-Title II-based FCC net neutrality rules, a compromise the FCC struck with other ISPs and stakeholders, that led to the Title II nuclear option in 2015. 

Bipartisan legislation would appear to be a tall order given the divisions among parties. In fact, a number of Senate and House Democrats were gathering on the lawn outside the CapitolWednesdayin support of retaining Title II, which would be a legislative nonstarter for Republicans and ISP stakeholders.

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.