Verizon’s Love/Hate Relationship with Net Neutrality

by Matt Klassen on March 28, 2016

verizonsquidYou would be hard-pressed to find a company more vociferously opposed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality regulations over the years than Verizon, as over the years Big Red has seemingly always been the first to the plate to challenge every iteration of the rules in court. In fact, you can thank Verizon for successfully overturning the FCC’s original Net Neutrality proposal in 2010, a win that prompted the Commission to seek out new, more restrictive, legally-binding open Internet standards.

But while we wait for the outcome of Verizon’s latest legal assault on Net Neutrality, fighting against the reclassification of broadband service as a public utility, there is a certain amount of irony in the fact that Big Red has penned a new blog post, coming out in favour of Net Neutrality and pledging its support to establish and preserve a free and open Internet. Say what?

Simply put, Verizon wants you to know that Net Neutrality is a great thing, something Americans deserve, and pursuing a free and open Internet is a laudable cause and worthy of its best efforts, and also that Big Red disagrees with everything Net Neutrality stands for, it will continue to fight against it until its collective dying breath, and that the FCC’s rules will ruin everything. I’m glad we cleared that up.

From the company’s blog post: “Verizon is committed to an open Internet. It’s what’s right for consumers and is vital to our business. Why? We have invested billions in businesses that depend on the ability to reach customers over the networks and platforms of others. We invested in digital ad technology through our $4.4 billion purchase of AOL and own content through properties like the Huffington Post, MapQuest, and TechCrunch. We have an expanding presence in the digital media and entertainment space; Verizon Digital Media Services helps content companies deliver their services in digital form to any screen or device, anywhere in the world.

These investments would be at risk without an open Internet. Now more than ever, we see protecting an open Internet as a business imperative that is inextricably tied to our future success.”

Now this isn’t the first time Verizon has flip-flopped on Net Neutrality, as in 2014 the company posted a damning critique of the FCC’s then-proposed legislation, arguing that it would ruin the industry and hamper Verizon’s development plans (similar to AT&T’s complaints). Big Red then went public later that year stating that, in fact, its investments and projects would be fine, but that it didn’t like Title II reclassification anyway and would still sue to stop it, which it did.

In order to show just how committed it is to Net Neutrality, should this recent reclassification be overturned in court, Verizon has offered up a few suggestions for what a free and open Internet should look like: 1) No blocking, 2) No throttling, 3) No paid prioritization (fast and slow lanes), and 4) Establishing general conduct and best practices standards.

Now if you’re wondering why those rules sound so familiar, it’s because the FCC already proposed them in 2010 and Verizon fought against and had them successfully overturned, a point that quietly angered much of the broadband industry, knowing that rejecting those initial rules would mean more restrictions to come.

But of course Verizon doesn’t want you to know that, instead it wants you to think that Big Red is meeting the FCC halfway here: making meaningful concessions to bring back the rules it rejected the first time around, which ultimately led to the development implementation of the rules we currently see that Verizon hates far more. More to the point, Verizon wants to avoid any rules that hamper the current Net Neutrality issues, like zero-rating and interconnection, and it is more than willing to accept and embrace regulations that do nothing to change its current money-making schemes.

So to put it simply, Verizon loves Net Neutrality, so long as it’s not actually Net Neutrality, does nothing to inhibit controversial, competition-killing practices, doesn’t touch on any hot button issues, and has enough loop-holes to drive a truck through.

It should also be noted that despite the fear-mongering about the death of the broadband industry, investments and development have not dried up and, in fact, it seems like Verizon and its cohorts are flourishing under the new system. But that’s not important.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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