WASHINGTON - Citing the importance of network management practices in providing safe and high-quality broadband services to consumers, a senior communications sector executive said Monday (Feb. 25) that competition - combined with meaningful information and industry-developed standards of conduct - would ensure that providers' practices benefit consumers.
He also suggested that public policy should focus on creating the right climate for investment in the increased network capacity needed for tomorrow's services and the addition of more players in the already competitive market.
Testifying at a Federal Communications Commission en banc hearing on broadband network management held at Harvard Law School, Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, said network management is "important to the secure and reliable functioning of our networks" and "just as important, if not more so, to consumers."
Tauke said actions taken to fight spam, guard against service attacks and other online threats, and to keep networks functioning as consumers expect are "technically complex and evolve constantly" to meet new challenges. "Particularly in a competitive and evolving marketplace like broadband, these are decisions best made by network engineers and operators - not policymakers," he said.
Tauke stressed that providing consumers with "meaningful information" and "transparency" will answer most concerns about network management. "All of us could probably do a better job of this, and we're working on it," he said. "So long as consumers have information about the nature of their broadband services and the practices of their providers, they will vote with their feet and their pocketbooks on the practices of various providers."
Tauke also stressed that all Internet industry participants must conduct themselves responsibly in the broadband world. "That means that, in addition to providing appropriate information to consumers, all online service providers have a responsibility in developing products that do not harm others.
"That isn't just a network provider issue," he continued. "To the extent application providers develop distribution methods that don't adversely affect the Internet experience available to others, there would be less need for proactive network management."
Tauke said, "The Internet industry has a responsibility to establish sound industry practices for the benefit of consumers." He also made a suggestion for sound public policy: "Any broadband policies must be considered carefully to see if they encourage or discourage deployment and investment," he said. "Preserving the healthy dynamic of investment, competition and innovation is a vital policy consideration."
Noting that Verizon was active in developing the High Tech Broadband Coalition consumer principles, Tauke said Verizon "is ready to work with industry participants to adapt those principles to changing circumstances" and "stand[s] willing to collaborate with other interested parties in developing innovative, pro-consumer solutions to new challenges."
That collaboration has begun, and Verizon is already working with P2P providers, Yale University researchers and other broadband providers through the P4P Working Group to develop innovative ways to improve the efficiency of P2P applications while simultaneously reducing the network congestion that such applications can cause, he said.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 66 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.