TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Verizon Seeks Change in US House Internet Language

Verizon Seeks Change in US House Internet Language

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 9 May 2006 12:54:12 -0500

Verizon Communications on Tuesday urged House of Representatives
lawmakers to revise proposed language on Internet network neutrality,
saying it could lead to prolonged litigation and uncertainty.

The provisions are part of a broader bill that would make it easier
for Verizon and AT&T Inc. to get into the subscription television
business. The companies have opposed legislation that would impose
so-called "Net neutrality."

The House measure codifies principles that the Federal Communications
Commission adopted last year and encourages high-speed Internet
service providers to ensure that consumers can freely surf the

But Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president of public affairs,
policy and communications, said those principles suggest consumers are
entitled to Internet access and competition, which he said could lead
to price controls and other regulations by an aggressive regulator.

"The spirit of the FCC language is fine but taking that language and
putting it in the statute, and the subsequent litigation that might
result from that, I think is problematic," Tauke said at an Internet
policy conference.

"So we encourage Congressman Barton and others to do a little careful
drafting of that language so that you have language that is more
appropriate for statute, which doesn't invite so much litigation down
the road," he said, referring to the Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton
(news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee and a principle sponsor of the bill.

Similar legislation in the Senate calls for study of the net
neutrality issue, a position that Tauke said his company embraced.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act has been mired in almost a decade of
litigation. Companies have complained that prolonged legal fights have
hurt investment and innovation.

Verizon and AT&T want to expand flat pricing for high-speed Internet
broadband to selling tiers of service based on the speed, reliability
and security. They have pledged not to block access to the open

But that has raised fears among Internet content companies such as Inc. and Google Inc. that they will be shunted to a slower
lane of the Internet if they do not pay more for dedicated access.

Tauke said that concern was unwarranted.

It was unclear when the House bill would be considered by the full
House because the Judiciary Committee has demanded that it be given
time to review and amend the bill, arguing that it has jurisdiction on
some of the issues in the measure.

Verizon agreed to adhere to the FCC's principles on Net neutrality
when it won approval from the agency to acquire MCI Inc. last year.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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