A word from Verizon

Verizon is an outspoken opponent of the government takeover of the Internet by the Federal Communications Commission. It therefore weighed in on Thursday when the FCC voted to approve an order urged by President Obama; the order will result in the imposition of rules on broadband Internet services under a law that was enacted “in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph.”

Verizon issued its press release in typewritten form lacking only a bottle of whiteout. The statement is posted here on Verizon’s policy blog.

What about AT&T? AT&T posted a comment here on the company’s public policy blog, but it’s one of those dispatches from corporate America that requires translation. Written more in sorrow than in anger, it expresses regret over the partisan division evident in the FCC’s assertion of its authority.

Verizon’s statement also requires translation, but not because it’s written in corporate speak. Verizon mocks the FCC’s approach, which introduces the heavy hand of government under a New Deal law. Verizon not only issued its press release in typewritten form, it also published its statement in Morse Code.

The mockery is not very corporate of Verizon. It betrays an irreverent attitude toward government regulation.

I sense the mischievous spirit of Verizon media relations maestro Ed McFadden in the mix. Ed’s name is on the press release, but he advises that the statement should be attributed to Verizon senior vice president Michael E. Glover. Fortunately, Ed has provided this translation for the Morse Code-impaired:

Today’s decision by the FCC to encumber broadband Internet services with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors. Over the past two decades a bipartisan, light-touch policy approach unleashed unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age consumers now enjoy.

The FCC today chose to change the way the commercial Internet has operated since its creation. Changing a platform that has been so successful should be done, if at all, only after careful policy analysis, full transparency, and by the legislature, which is constitutionally charged with determining policy. As a result, it is likely that history will judge today’s actions as misguided.

The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly unnecessary. The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-plus pages of broad and open-ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.

What has been and will remain constant before, during and after the existence of any regulations is Verizon’s commitment to an open Internet that provides consumers with competitive broadband choices and Internet access when, where, and how they want.

Everything about the FCC’s action is wrong, as one might reasonably infer from its celebration by Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Al Franken (noted by Fortune here). Though it requires much more comment and analysis, the odds aren’t good that the FCC’s action could be good public policy.


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