Verizon on FCC Comcast Decision: Wait and See

Verizon Communications executive VP, former congressman Tom Tauke gives his take on FCC decision that Comcast violated its network-management guidelines.
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Tom Tauke, Verizon Communications’ executive vice president and a former congressman, said Thursday that his company supports a mechanism for dealing with bad actors when it comes to complaints about network management, although he added that he was not calling Comcast a bad actor.

Asked by reporters what the impact on Verizon would be of the Federal Communications Commission's decision that Comcast violated its network-management guidelines, Tauke said he could not comment on the specific decision until the FCC released the actual order.

"I listened carefully to the statements at the [FCC] meeting and I couldn't figure it out," he added. "I am anxious to see exactly what it says and what it would mean for us."

He did not rule out taking the decision to court if it was written in a way that could cause problems for his company, but he was making no predictions before he saw the order. "Obviously, it could be written in a way that we would find not problematic; it could be written in a way that it would be problematic," he said.

The FCC asserted jurisdiction, he said, adding, "No court has made a judgment on whether or not it has jurisdiction and we'll see if Comcast challenges it."

Tauke outlined the triage for dealing with issues like network neutrality.

His first choice is industry self-regulation. If you avoid the problem, he said, you obviate the need to address it with regulation or legislation.

"We support the industry getting its act together and dealing with the issues of transparency and working together to set standards for network management," he added. "If you don't have a mechanism for dealing with potentially bad actors, then all of us are subject to potentially harmful regulation."

His second choice is the sort of case-by-case approach the FCC has adopted, although there remain those questions about the FCC's authority, since its guidelines are not rules.

"If they have jurisdiction, we think it is appropriate for them to try to use the powers that they have in order to enforce the principles that they have adopted," he added.

Those approaches are sufficient without Congress stepping in to impose network-neutrality laws, he suggested, adding, "The FCC's action in this case shows it intends to uphold the principles and we believe, therefore, that there isn't a need for further legislation."

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