Verizon: The Time Is Right for Policymakers to Establish a Pro-Growth Agenda for Economic Growth and Prosperity and Resolve Lingering Internet Policy Debates

With the nation's economy facing unprecedented challenges, policymakers must enact polices that incent broadband providers, software developers and the technology and communications sectors as a whole to continue investing in the nation's vital communications networks.

In calling for action, Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications, said, "To ensure our long-term economic growth, America needs to do what we do best -- innovate and improve productivity."

Tauke spoke on Tuesday (Nov. 16) at "The Future of Telecom and U.S. Competitiveness," a meeting sponsored by the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association.

Tauke cited three core areas where policymakers could encourage investment and innovation to generate U.S. economic growth, competitiveness and productivity: economic capital, human capital and the platform that ties them together -- global broadband networks.

To ensure ongoing investment and innovation in global, high-speed networks, which are critical to the global economy, Tauke called on Congress to create more certainty in the marketplace by clarifying the role of government in the Internet and broadband space.

Tauke said, "The first objective should be to encourage the ongoing investment and innovation. ... Put another way, regulators should 'do no harm.'

Addressing the debate over network management and net neutrality, Tauke said, "After haggling over the issue for over five years, we are essentially in the same place we were when this debate started. There still is no identifiable problem to be solved, and instead, as predicted, technology and market forces are ensuring that access to the Internet is open to consumers, as well as to developers of content and services.

"Attempts by the Federal Communications Commission to assert its jurisdiction in this area have resulted in court rebukes and considerable uncertainty," Tauke said. "New efforts by the FCC to adopt net neutrality policies are likely to suffer a similar fate.  Moreover, the struggle over these policies seems to be occupying the policy field and preventing the FCC from addressing other critical issues, many of which were teed up in the National Broadband Plan."

In his remarks, Tauke cited several examples of how broadband investments yield significant returns.  He cited statistics that reveal capital invested in technology yields a 4-to-1 return on investment, and called on Congress to support policies and tax reforms that would put the U.S. on a more competitive footing in the global economy.

"U.S. policymakers should take steps to make our business tax system competitive with its major trading partners or risk falling behind in the global race to attract capital, jobs and drivers for economic growth," Tauke said.

Tauke also called on lawmakers to promote growth in human and intellectual capital.

"Just as companies compete to attract and keep talented employees, the U.S. should be looking for ways to attract and keep intellectual talent," he said.  "We should encourage policies that allow international students, who complete a degree at a U.S. university in a high-demand field, and who have a valid job offer, to obtain a work permit outside of the existing quotas and with a path toward citizenship."

Noting the global and collaborative nature of the Internet, Tauke said it can continue to thrive without heavy regulatory oversight.   He said, "The reality is the Internet has largely been self-governed, through such organizations as the Internet Engineering Task Force, which over the years has helped establish key protocols that make the Internet work and are important to its interoperable nature."

He said Verizon would like to build upon this model by collaborating with organizations such as the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), a growing group of technologists and engineers from academia, the advocacy community, broadband providers, and equipment, software and content companies.  The group's purpose is to develop a consensus on broadband network management practices and other technical issues.

"The expectation is that BITAG will provide a forum for engineers and technologists from across the Internet ecosystem to discuss best practices, examine emerging technology challenges, and advise policy makers on how to think about key technology issues," Tauke said.

Tauke also said it is important to create pro-growth policies for broadband and the Internet, not only for continued global leadership in technology, but because networks are so critical to so many areas, including the modernization of the nation's electric grid, and improvements to the health care and educational systems.

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 more than 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 195,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.