Verizon's Tauke Calls For New National Broadband Policy to Meet Consumer Needs and Spur Availability

CHICAGO - Verizon Executive Vice President Thomas J. Tauke called today for a national broadband policy that accounts for the global nature of the service; is technology-neutral and encourages convergence; and treats broadband as a competitive market where economic regulation is unnecessary. He said reform of the video franchise process is important for consumers and the future of broadband.

Tauke's remarks came at a panel discussion sponsored by International Engineering Consortium forum during SUPERCOMM. Some 25,000 telecom industry executives are attending the three-day conference for communications service providers.

"There remains a real disconnect between the broadband market and broadband policy," Tauke said. "The broadband market is global, while broadband policy is still local. The broadband market is converging, while broadband policy is still in silos. And the broadband market is competitive, while broadband policy is still stagnant," he added.

Tauke said it is also critical that policymakers create a marketplace that encourages investment, innovation and risk-taking. "We need action in Congress and at the FCC," he said.

Tauke said Congress should establish a new "national policy" that creates choice by eliminating barriers to competition. One of the requirements of that update should be a new video policy that encourages competition and treats telecoms as new entrants to the video marketplace - just as cable has been treated as a new entrant to the voice marketplace with VoIP.

Video competition "will result in an explosion of new services for consumers," Tauke said. "But we need to change the policy on franchising." The current process was built for cable companies that needed authority to build a network and received exclusivity to offer video services in a defined marketplace, he said.

But "we already have the authority to deploy the network, and we are entering the video market as a new player in a competitive marketplace. Applying the cable franchise rules to us is unfair and simply delays the day when consumers will have a choice of video providers," he said.

In addition to Congressional leadership, Tauke said, "we need a fully functioning FCC," adding that "it is hard to make bold policy when you have one vacancy and two lame ducks." He called for the White House to be "active and attentive" on the matter.

In summary, Tauke said, "Businesses are ready for broadband. Consumers are ready for broadband. Policy has to catch up. As an industry, we must continue to remind policymakers and consumers that broadband is not just about megabit speed or franchising or DRM. It is about access [for consumers]."

With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of 212,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 45.5 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.