Verizon Says FCC Open Internet Proceeding Reveals Emerging Agreement on Key Goals

Verizon told the Federal Communications Commission on Monday (April 26) that the public record of comments and testimony amassed by the agency during its Open Internet regulatory proceeding reveals an "emerging agreement on key goals for ensuring the continued success of the Internet." 

But no evidence emerged of a failure in the marketplace that would justify sweeping Internet regulations.

The key goals include keeping the Internet "an open platform" for consumers and entrepreneurs, maintaining investment and innovation, encouraging transparency across the Internet ecosystem, and continuing to govern the Internet to the extent possible through the development of technical standards and best practices by the Internet community.

Areas of emerging agreement also include the need for flexibility in network management and the sense that a broad prohibition on all discrimination is inappropriate and would harm consumers.
 "Virtually all parties agree that the public Internet should continue to be an open platform over which consumers can access whatever lawful content and applications they choose," Verizon said in its FCC filing. 

"In addition to allowing consumers to decide what practices, services, or devices best suit their needs, transparency will allow them to identify practices to which they object and thereby permit policing of anti-competitive or anti-consumer practices through public scrutiny, the possibility of reputational harm, and the risk of governmental sanction."

The need for transparency applies across the Internet, including to application and content providers, Verizon said.

"The Internet has historically been governed largely through the efforts of the Internet community in the form of technical standards bodies and other self-regulatory measures such as the development of industry best practices," Verizon told the commission. "That model should be built upon by creating additional technical and industry groups with the requisite technical expertise that can address problems that do arise, develop industry best practices, and provide a forum to help resolve disputes, much as the Better Business Bureau oversees an alternative dispute resolution mechanism [concerning advertising]."

To guard against potential bad actors in the Internet sector, Verizon said government should address "demonstrated harm to users or to competition on a swift and surgical basis based on an 'ex post' finding of specific facts involved in a particular incident where industry mechanisms are unable to resolve the conduct at issue."

Verizon said the Internet has thrived "because successive administrations of both parties have resisted the urge to regulate."

"This approach has led to an open platform that permits consumers to access the lawful content and applications of their choice, massive investment, and flourishing innovation, all of which has brought unparalleled benefits to consumers and the economy more generally."

Verizon also noted in its filing: "The record contains no facts establishing a pattern of blocking access to websites, anticompetitive discrimination, or any other harmful behavior by broadband Internet access providers.

"Instead, proponents are left to speculate about possible future harms and hypothetical economic incentives ... [that] would apply equally to other members of the Internet ecosystem that are in a position to play a gatekeeping role yet go untouched by the proposed regulations."

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 93 million customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 217,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.