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Net Neutrality Comments: Verizon Says Net Neutrality Rules Unnecessary, Unconstitutional

in Net Neutrality Comments/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2010 – Verizon Communications’s net neutrality filling is unique in that the telecom giant is one of the only companies which provides broadband service via high-speed fiber optic cables and copper digital subscriber lines, plus wireless broadband via third-generation and fourth-generation wireless services.

The company’s opposition to net neutrality is based on, it says, the lack of evidence that users’ internet rights have been violated. Additionally, the companies said that enforcement of such principles will have negative economic consequences.

Internet services are still in their early stages, the company said, and heavy-handed intervention would prevent future innovation. Additional, the current level of competition among the various providers will prevent any violation of rights.

As regards wireless services, Verizon said that the Federal Communications Commission has no basis for attempting to enforce such rules because of the lack of problems in the past with network discrimination. Network management regulations would be particularly harmful for wireless providers, as they must manage scarce spectrum with the needs of customers.

Instead of imposing a blanket set of rules, Verizon said that regulations should only be adopted when harmful practices are undertaken and the regulation should occur on a case by case basis. The creation of rules they believe will limit future innovation and impose a high level of costs on providers.

The imposition of these rules will prevent internet service providers from development new means of profit-maximization or possible subsidization of user costs. One of the proposed methods of lowering access costs would be to have content providers pay ISPs for specialized access.

Additionally, Verizon said that the FCC lacks statutory authority to regulate. Such regulations would violate the First and Fifth Amendment, the company said:

“Contrary to claims of net neutrality proponents who assert that government regulations would promote First Amendment interests, the First Amendment protects against governmental restrictions on speech. Here, by restricting providers’ ability to offer their own differentiated services, whether by using their own content or innovative content and services offered in collaboration with others, the proposed rules would impose direct restraints on speech in violation of the First Amendment. And by requiring the compulsory dedication of private property to the use of others with no express statutory authorization and without compensation, the proposed run also would run afoul of the Fifth Amendment.”

Increased transparency would prevent users’ rights from being violated. The company attached experts’ reports from economists.

The full filling can be found at:

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club event, “Net Neutrality, Copyright Protection and the National Broadband Plan,” on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Register here.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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