ASPEN, Colo. - Speaking today at the Progress & Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit, Verizon Vice Chairman and President Lawrence Babbio told industry leaders that Verizon is taking the lead to bring broadband benefits to consumers.
"We've built our business on the idea that investing in top quality is essential, so we're investing in fiber directly to customers today to deliver ultra high-speed, broadband services to our customers tomorrow," said Babbio. Despite all the innovation and productivity that the Internet has already delivered, he said, the Internet revolution "has barely begun" and, ultimately, broadband "will become an essential part" of Americans' daily lives.
Verizon is transforming the telecommunications landscape by deploying innovative broadband technologies like fiber-to-the-premises, which brings fiber-optic connections directly into customer homes and businesses; Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) the first-ever deployment of wireless broadband services; and the most extensive commercial launch of residential voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) broadband phone service. The company plans to invest at least $3 billion in these technologies through 2005.
Deployment of high-speed broadband technologies would benefit states and cities across the country. These benefits include strong economic growth and employment, enriched educational programs, improved medical services, faster and more efficient government services, and improved services for residents Babbio said.
But current policy acts as a brake on such investment, and Babbio called on regulators to "stop making policy by looking in the rear-view mirror."
"Many of the policies in place today were designed around circuit-switched voice technology and an era of limited customer choice," he said.
"Today's new broadband technologies need an entirely new approach to communications policy - one that builds on the strength of the Internet, relies heavily on competition, encourages investment and innovation, and provides for an effective but non-intrusive role for government," Babbio said.
- Do not apply unbundling obligations to new broadband networks. Unbundling and pricing policies applied in the past to stimulate competition in voice telephony are unnecessary in the highly competitive broadband data world.
- Allow the market to work, free of extensive and unnecessary regulation that stifles innovation.
- Eliminate economic regulation of high-speed services. Remove price regulation and tariffs, and otherwise treat broadband with the light regulatory touch accorded to information services (Title I). Wireline telephone companies that offer video as part of broadband services should not have to obtain cable franchises in every local jurisdiction, since they already have the right of way to deploy networks. Revenue needs of local governments can be met without the delay and red tape inherent in the franchising process.
- Adopt a national policy that pre-empts other levels of government. Local jurisdictional borders do not apply to the realm of the Internet. Current policy subjects investments to the conflicting agendas and interpretations of regulatory agencies at every level of government.
He offered four principles on which an updated policy should be built:
"Putting our industry on a healthy, rational economic footing will help stimulate new growth, create entrepreneurial activity and deliver the long-promised social benefits of broadband," said Babbio.
"If America's broadband expansion stalls, it will be because we were unable to let go of the regulatory disincentives of the past. But we're betting and anticipating it will not come to that."
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.