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With net neutrality in limbo, Verizon Communications and Comcast -- two major Internet players delighted by its probable demise -- have stepped forward and urged the Federal Communications Commission to drop its campaign to require all Internet service providers to treat all data sources equally.
While knocking the FCC's effort on net neutrality, Verizon's Tom Tauke told the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association that policymakers should focus more on promoting business growth, including making the country's business tax system more attractive for business.
"Attempts by the Federal Communications Commission to assert its jurisdiction in this area have resulted in court rebukes and considerable uncertainty," Tauke said at the OIDA meeting this week. "New efforts by the FCC to adopt net neutrality policies are likely to suffer a similar fate. Moreover, the struggle over these policies seems to be occupying the policy field and preventing the FCC from addressing other critical issues, many of which were teed up in the (FCC's) National Broadband Plan." Tauke is Verizon executive VP of public affairs, policy, and communications.
Tauke also plugged the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG), created earlier this year to focus on technology and engineering issues involving the Internet.
Also this week, Comcast executive VP David Cohen echoed Tauke, hailing BITAG, too. "Net neutrality is, first and foremost, an engineering issue," he said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. "It's not a political issue."
Cohen has promoted the idea that the future of the Internet should be in the hands of technologists and engineers through organizations like BITAG and that Internet providers should be left to self-regulate on the issue.
Public interest groups and some companies relying on the Internet for delivery of its services, like Google and Skype, have supported net neutrality policies promoted by the FCC. As for the FCC, it could still pass some form of net neutrality, but it would likely be challenged by lengthy court proceedings.
Comcast has already won an important decision against the FCC delivered by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington and would likely knock down net neutrality policies again. Judge David Sentelle's words before the Comcast-FCC decision still ring in the ears of all concerned with net neutrality: "You can't get an unbridled, roving commission to go about doing good."
Verizon and Google have proposed a compromise of sorts on the issue, arguing that net neutrality issues could apply to wired access, but not to wireless.
"After haggling over the issue for over five years, we are essentially in the same place we were when this debate started," said Tauke.
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