Verizon tells FCC to address blocking and paid prioritization without Title II reclassification

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has launched its latest salvo in the net neutrality debate, saying that the FCC has enough authority to enforce paid prioritization, blocking and throttling today without having to reclassify service providers under Title II regulation.

The service provider acknowledged that the FCC already has the authority to protect consumers from service providers violating these three issues: broadband providers are barred from charging a content provider like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) to deliver its service faster than others over its last mile network; service providers should not be able to throttle or slow down traffic based on its source or content; and broadband providers should not block traffic based on the traffic's source, destination or content.

"The D.C. Circuit has already confirmed that Section 706 provides the Commission with authority to protect the open Internet by addressing practices that would harm competition or consumers and provided a roadmap for sustainable rules," wrote Verizon in a filing with the FCC. "Given that, Verizon and all other major broadband Internet access providers and their trade associations have conceded that the Commission has authority under Section 706, as it now has been interpreted by the D.C. Circuit, to prohibit harmful 'paid prioritization' arrangements as well as other practices, such as blocking. By doing so, Verizon and these other broadband providers have effectively waived their ability to litigate the issue of whether Section 706 provides authority for such rules."

Verizon also challenged claims made by supporters of Title II that say service providers have engaged in unlawful paid prioritization practices.

"The record shows no instances of paid prioritization arrangements to date and broadband providers have confirmed that they have no plans to adopt such a practice in the future," Verizon wrote in its filing. "The record is similarly bereft of any evidence that broadband providers have blocked or degraded online traffic."

Fran Shammo, CFO and EVP of Verizon, last week found himself having to clarify whether FCC regulations would slow or stop further investment in high-speed broadband network following comments made during the UBS 42nd Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. 

Debate over this issue has intensified in recent weeks following President Barack Obama's plea to the FCC to reclassify the broadband service that service providers like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon offer under Title II of the 1996 Telecom Act.

Besides Verizon, AT&T has also been an outspoken critic of Title II reclassification. Due to the uncertainty around current net neutrality regulations, AT&T said it would pause the expansion of its ambitious fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) project into 100 U.S. cities.

For more:
- see this filing

Related articles:
Verizon's Shammo clarifies remarks about net neutrality impact on company's investment strategy
Verizon's Shammo: If net neutrality passes, it will create a litigious environment
Verizon's Shammo: We'll look at FiOS expansions once it returns the cost of capital
AT&T halts fiber deployments until net neutrality is resolved

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