Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SUPERCOMM Keynote: Verizon's Seidenberg Challenges FCC on Net Neutrality

One day before the FCC plans to release its order on network neutrality, Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg warned government regulators against "pitting network providers and applications developers against each other in a zero-sum game, when the real promise of broadband is an expanding pie for everybody." In an opening keynote address at Supercomm in Chicago, Seidenberg said continued investment in network infrastructure are clearly required to fulfill the potential of broadband but such investments require the correct government policies.

Seidenberg worries that the proponents of Net Neutrality have a world-view that favors application providers, such as Google, at the expense of network operators. This position, he said, fundamentally misreads how innovation happens in the industry and under values the role that sound network management plays in supporting the Internet today.

If Verizon is not allowed to differentiate between packets, it will not be able to stop security breaches or prioritize traffic for emergency responders. "The truth is that we have never provided dumb pipes," said Seidenberg, and in the future customer will rely more on smart infrastructure. He warned that if burdensome 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." And if it applies only to network operators, then the government will be "favoring one competitor over another."

Rather than impose rigid rules, Seidenberg would like the FCC to focus on creating the conditions for growth. He suggested increasing spectrum availability, streamlining the process for cell tower siting, and overhauling universal service subsidies and the payment system for exchanging telecommunications traffic.

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