WASHINGTON -- Verizon today said current lopsided regulations that favor cable companies are discouraging telecommunications providers from making significant, new investment in additional broadband facilities.
In comments filed with the FCC, Verizon said that common rules for all broadband providers are the key to unleashing what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell has described as the "incalculable benefits" of faster and higher quality Internet services to more consumers.
The FCC currently has several proceedings under way to develop a national broadband policy. Verizon's comments were filed with the FCC in connection with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released earlier this year. The rulemaking process seeks to define a regulatory framework for telecommunications providers competing in the developing broadband market.
"What's at stake is consumer choice at fair prices," said Tom Tauke, senior vice president for Public Policy and External Affairs at Verizon. "The only protection against closed cable broadband systems is stiff competition from other broadband providers. That competition will only occur if federal regulation is fair and allows everybody to compete on an equal footing."
Cable modem service today dominates the high-speed Internet market with two-thirds market share. Yet cable companies bear none of the regulatory burdens placed on telecommunications companies, which have a very small share of the market, but offer the best prospect for competitive alternatives for broadband services.
The FCC recently determined that high-speed Internet service delivered over cable networks falls under Title I of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. So cable companies are not required to open their networks to competitors and can change prices almost at will.
"Cable companies will remain unchecked and consumers will suffer if there is no regulatory relief to free telecommunications providers to further invest in broadband technology," said Tauke.
Verizon called on the FCC to allow local telephone companies the same freedom under Title I. Verizon said Title I regulation would not require local phone companies to lease their new high-speed networks at below-cost prices. Instead, Verizon is seeking to make its broadband services open to all Internet service providers at competitive prices.
"Title I regulation would deliver the benefits of competition by allowing local phone companies to invest in new broadband technologies while delivering innovation and price competition to consumers," said Tauke.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.