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Verizon Lobbyist Urges Action on Franchising Issue

Jul 11, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Verizon’s lobbyist Tom Tauke today called on Congress to act quickly on cable franchising legislation, warning that Congress is at a “critical pivot point” in policy and shouldn’t delay action because of net neutrality questions drawn out of fear, not substance.

In a speech to the Media Institute, Mr. Tauke, Verizon’s executive VP of public affairs, policy and communications, also suggested that allowing phone companies to for the first time charge content providers as well as users for faster service could offer new alternatives for innovation.

Consumer groups and some senators urging net neutrality have questioned whether phone companies would use the charges to discriminate between content, essentially creating a two-lane Internet: a fast one for favored partners and a slow one for others.

Mr. Tauke offered a more favorable view, saying video gaming sites might find paying Verizon to get faster service enhances their user experience and might do so to help users to get a megabit burst in speed for their site, benefiting all. He said to his knowledge Verizon is not in talks with anyone now about providing that boost.

The House has already passed the cable franchising legislation, but Senate floor action isn’t expected until September at the earliest. The legislation would allow phone companies to skip going city by city for cable franchises, but instead get national franchises.