AT&T and Verizon say FCC Net neutrality principles work

Executives from AT&T and Verizon Communications say the FCC needs to show that its Net neutrality principles can be enforced to keep future Net neutrality legislation at bay.

Correction: This story misstated a quote from Tom Tauke, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for Verizon. Tauke said that it was in the best interest for the FCC to make a decision on the Comcast/BitTorrent case. He did not say that it was in the best interest for the FCC to make a decision against Comcast.

LAS VEGAS--Executives from AT&T and Verizon Communications said Tuesday that it's important for the Federal Communications Commission to take action in the Comcast debate over slowing down certain forms of peer-to-peer traffic in order to prove that legislation is not necessary when it comes to Net neutrality.

Jim Cicconi of AT&T (left) and Tom Tauke of Verizon (right) appeared on a panel together at the NxtComm trade show Tuesday. Marguerite Reardon/CNET Networks

Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., has been under fire for months after it was discovered the company had been slowing down peer-to-peer traffic on its network . The company claimed it had singled out peer-to-peer, file-sharing traffic, because it was eating up an inordinate amount of bandwidth, which caused degradation across the rest of its customers.

Consumer groups were incensed by the tactic, and the blogosphere filled with criticism. And as a result the FCC has been examining whether Comcast violated any of the agency's Net neutrality principles. A hearing was held earlier this year , and the FCC is expected to make a ruling on the matter sometime this summer.

Jim Cicconi, senior executive and vice president for legislative affairs for AT&T, and Tom Tauke, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for Verizon, told an audience at the NxtComm trade show here that it's important for the FCC to make a decision in this case to show that the agency's Net neutrality principles are enough to keep service providers honest.

"It's in the best interest of the industry for the FCC to make a judgment on the Comcast/BitTorrent case," Tauke said. "None of us want to be in a world where there is a sense that nobody is watching what is going on. We have the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission, which have authority to enforce some policies in this area. And if they do their jobs properly, they can make positive contributions on how the Internet develops."

Cicconi agreed, saying that the FCC has the opportunity to prove to Net neutrality supporters and Congress that it can enforce its own policies and keep the Internet open.

"The Comcast case has brought the debate over Net neutrality into specifics," Cicconi said. He added that this is important because up until now the discussion has centered on hypothetical problems. And creating new laws to deal with problems that haven't yet occurred could be disastrous for the industry.

 

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