Verizon outlines net neutrality stance with statement against blocking, throttling

Verizon trumpeted its backing of some net neutrality principles, saying in a public statement that it backs policies banning service providers from blocking or throttling specific kinds of content and prohibiting them from charging content partners for faster delivery of their wares.

The largest mobile network operator in the U.S. also called for Congress to step in and clearly define the scope of the FCC's authority to oversee mobile carriers and other companies in the digital era.

Noting that the operator has expanded into media and advertising with last year's $4.4 billion purchase of AOL and its content properties, Verizon's Craig Silliman said protecting an open Internet is in the carrier's best interests. Policymakers should craft a policy framework that can help "catalyze innovation in over-the-top services," wrote Silliman, the company's general counsel and executive vice president for public policy, as well as encouraging investments in networks that deliver such services.

So Silliman said Verizon backs policies that "prevent providers from blocking lawful content, applications or services;" that ban service providers from intentionally slowing or throttling network speeds based on the traffic's source, destination or content; and that bar paid prioritization that speeds the delivery of some content over others.

The carrier also urged the creation of a "general conduct standard" that would prevent unreasonable conduct by broadband providers "where there is actual harm to consumers or to competition."

Unsurprisingly, Verizon didn't address the question of zero-rated data offerings that enable users to access specific kinds of content without having an impact on their monthly data allotments. Verizon's new FreeBee Data, and its application in Verizon's Go90 video service, has drawn criticism from some net neutrality proponents because it allows content providers to pay the cost of delivering their wares to users, giving them an advantage over content companies that can't afford the freight. And because Verizon has expanded into media, it can now use its network to push its own data offerings to users.

The FCC earlier this month proposed new privacy rules for fixed-line and mobile broadband providers, prompting some players in the mobile industry to question the Commission's jurisdiction. Silliman said such uncertainty will only increase unless Congress intervenes with legislation that clarifies the FCC's purview.

"In the past we have criticized the FCC for applying outdated rules to the fast-moving Internet ecosystem," he wrote. "We still think that's true, but let's be fair: Congress hasn't updated the FCC's toolbox for over 20 years, so the FCC is working with the only tools it has, however inadequate. Congress can give the FCC the tools it needs to do this properly and on a legally sustainable basis. It should do so."

For more:
- see this Verizon blog post

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