Verizon, AT&T oppose net neutrality legislation

22 Oct 2009

Verizon Communications chairman Ivan Seidenberg has delivered a speech slamming the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) proposed net neutrality measures, branding them a ‘mistake, pure and simple,’ Dow Jones Newswires reports. As reported by CommsUpdate on 22 September, the FCC launched a website (www.openinternet.gov) to canvass opinion regarding the expansion of net neutrality regulations. This followed FCC chairman Julius Genachowski’s announcement that the regulator plans to introduce legislation which would prevent ISPs from discriminating against particular internet content or applications, while requiring operators to maintain transparency over their network congestion policies. Seidenberg’s concerns were raised as it appears the proposals solely apply to ISPs and not web-based companies such as Google, he said: ‘If it applies only to us, the government will in effect be favouring one set of competitors over another.’ He also suggested that universal application of the regulations would be disingenuous, adding: ‘If this burdensome regime of net regulation is imposed on all parts of the internet industry, it will inject an extraordinary amount of bureaucratic oversight into the economy’s main growth engine for the future.’ AT&T has also openly opposed the measures, reportedly even asking its employees to weigh in on the rule using the FCC’s blog.

Meanwhile, a group of 30 business investors in technology companies has sent a letter to Genachowski praising the rules. The letter, which was signed by, amongst others, early Google backer John Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, read: ‘Permitting network operators to close network platforms or control the applications market by favouring certain kinds of content would endanger innovation and investment in an investment sector which represents many billions of dollars in economic activity.’ The debate is gaining momentum just as the FCC is due to hold an open meeting to discuss the proposals. To date, no draft regulations have been published but the FCC is expected to lodge a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) later this month.

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