If there’s one thing I admire about major internet service providers, its most certainly their ability to publicly talk about how great competition is despite this being a bold-faced lie.
It also makes my blood boil.
The latest example comes from Verizon’s comments about net neutrality in a recent filing to the Federal Communications Commission. The filing, which was created with AT&T, begged the FCC not to adopt new rules for regulating how Internet providers manage traffic on their networks.
The gist of net neutrality is that all Internet traffic should be treated equally — no special treatment for big companies with big bucks. That prevents companies like Verizon from prioritizing the data from one company over another company via some form of payment to ensure a service works better than its competitors.
“Given the exceedingly competitive and dynamic nature of the mobile wireless marketplace, the absence of any demonstrated harm relating to mobile broadband practices, and the enormous welfare gains that the marketplace is conferring upon consumers, the Commission should avoid prescriptive regulation that will be outdated as soon as the ink is dry,” Verizon said in the filing.
In other words, Verizon is making the case that the broadband Internet market is so highly competitive in the U.S. — and as such, implementing new rules similar to the old net neutrality rules is simply unnecessary. Verizon is also warning that if the FCC decides to ignore its advice, these new rules would become obsolete immediately, because that’s how fast the pace of competition and innovation is when it comes to ISPs.
Verizon’s comments ignore that there are only a handful of competitors offering high-speed Internet service to consumers. The company’s stance also ignores that there’s any value in making sure that competition remains healthy, especially if it resembles net neutrality.
However, earlier this year a federal judge awarded Verizon a victory by ruling that the FCC didn’t have the authority to force Internet providers to follow the old net neutrality rules. Yet, the judge also ruled that the FCC could regulate broadband Internet, which means we could get a new set of rules if the FCC so desires. That’s why Verizon and AT&T are publicly reaching out to the FCC, such as they did with the filing released yesterday.
We’re still waiting to see how the FCC will proceed with regulating broadband Internet. Currently, FCC head Tom Wheeler has remained mostly vague on how the federal agency might do this.