Verizon Willing To Consider Fifth FCC Internet Principle

Executive V.P. says company open to considering principle but thinks competition has driven market to openness

While Verizon's top Washington policy executive says he still thinks a fifth FCC principle on broadband network nondiscrimination is unnecessary, he also recognizes the political reality that there was an election and there appears to be some momentum for movement on the nondiscrimination front in the administration, in Congress, and at the FCC.

"I'm not saying I am inviting a fifth principle," Verizon Executive VP Tom Tauke told reporters Thursday at a press briefing, "but I wouldn't want to say that we couldn't find a way to live with a fifth principle."

He said that was not a change in policy, but did suggest it was a reflection of the political reality.

"They won the election," he said, "and they are going to try to correct whatever problem they see is there. We don't see that there is a problem, but we're certainly going to understand what their objective is and try to work with them."

Tauke pointed out that the company's positions have previously evolved. "We were wary of some of the past activities that have been proposed at the FCC and didn't always embrace the notion upfront but gradually got to the point where we'd say, ‘OK, these four principles we think we can live with these.'"

He said he expects that is the kind of dialog that will be going on in the future.

Tauke also tried to make the case for why such a principle was unnecessary, which is that increasing broadband competition has already driven the market to more openness. "We generally support the notion of open internet. We are trying to give customers access to products and services they want. We believe the market and the forces of history and technology push you in the direction of opening and not blocking and denying and restricting."

He said that is consistent with what the new administration wants, "so, it seems to me there should be a way to get some policy."

Tauke would not say how he would write such a compromise fifth principle if it arises. "I'm not sure what the new [administration] team has in mind... I think the common objectives and the good news in this space, I think there is certainly a way to come together."

But he distinguished that from an extreme, "bits is bits" network neutrality position that would "prevent us from managing the network and freeze in place network technology."

That kind of principle, he said, "we would obviously oppose."