Verizon CEO blasts net neutrality, 'dumb-pipe' world
Verizon Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg took the stage on the first morning of the Supercomm trade show Wednesday to blast network neutrality regulations currently proposed by the Federal Communications Commission.
“This is a mistake, pure and simple -- an analog idea in a digital universe,” Seidenberg said, arguing that rules preventing broadband providers from discriminating against certain content types or sources – which have been proposed by the FCC and supported by Internet-centric companies such as Google and Facebook – would choke innovation and clash with the FCC’s drive to promote broadband deployment investment.
“If we can’t differentiate between packets, we can’t prioritize emergency communications for first responders, telesurgery or heart-monitor readings for digital medicine or videoconferencing over spam for telecommuters,” he said.
Seidenberg’s comments came just one day before an open meeting of the Federal Communications Commission to discuss net neutrality policy.
“Proponents of net neutrality [suggest] that network providers like Verizon and applications providers like Google, Amazon and others occupy fundamentally different parts of the Internet ecosystem – a binary world of ‘dumb pipes’ on the one hand and ‘smart applications’ on the other,” Seidenberg said, dismissing the notion as a false choice.
Verizon Wireless is currently preparing to release a smartphone based on Google’s Android operating system – an unlikely pairing of companies often on opposite sides of the net neutrality debate.
“The truth is, we have never provided ‘dumb pipes,’” he said. “And as more and more commerce takes place on the Internet, customers will rely even more on the quality of service, reliability and product differentiation that network operators provide. More broadly, if we can’t earn a return on the investments we make in broadband capacity, our progress toward a connected world will be delayed, if not halted altogether.”
To promote broadband innovation, the FCC should focus instead on freeing up more wireless spectrum, Seidenberg said. On that point, he and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski seem to agree. At another telecom industry event this month, Genachowski said addressing spectrum scarcity was one of the FCC’s highest priorities.
Though net neutrality advocates’ concerns stem partly from the notion of broadband access being controlled by too few companies, Seidenberg argued that in most markets, Internet users have a choice of eight competing providers.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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