Verizon strikes back at critics of net neutrality plan

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) defended its public policy proposal on net neutrality, with a top regulatory executive arguing critics are trying to push a narrative that is "dead wrong."

Speaking at the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum in Aspen, Colo., Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president of public affairs, said the proposal Verizon and Google put forward Aug. 9 is "much tougher than any nondiscrimination proposal that had ever been put on the table publicly before."

Verizon and Google's policy framework--intended to influence debate and legislation on the topic--sparked a furor. The outcry was such that Google issued a response, in part arguing the effort was not intended to cover its Android relationship with Verizon Wireless.

The companies' framework calls for a regime that forbids any kind of prioritization--including paid prioritization--of Internet traffic over wired networks. However, those rules would not apply to wireless networks, an exemption which has been criticized by public interest groups and other companies, including Facebook and Amazon. The proposal also said that certain advanced online services, such as telemedicine and smart grids, should not be covered by net neutrality regulations.

Verizon's Tauke rejected the notion that the framework would create two tiers of the Internet. He said critics have simply "decided to engage in the long-perpetuated narrative of a two-tiered Internet," which he said was "dead wrong."

Additionally, Tauke also defended the proposal's wireless exemption, and said he found criticism of that plank "a little ironic, because there is only one company in the U.S. that has a requirement for open access as a wireless entity, and that of course is Verizon." Verizon purchased 700 MHz spectrum in 2008 that carries open-access provisions.

Tauke said that since the wireless industry is evolving rapidly, "more rules didn't make sense." 

For more:
- see this MarketWatch article
- see this CNet article

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