verizon net neutrality

Verizon Net Neutrality – A Genuine Stance or Just Masquerade?

Updated 12/15/2017

After the whole year of battle between FCC and the US Internet consumers, tech companies and other supporters of Net Neutrality, it is quite unfortunate that the proposal to repeal Net Neutrality has finally been approved.

People's Reaction After the Repeal


The heated battle for the Internet, i.e., FCC vs. Net Neutrality, is nearing its end.

December 14, 2017 is going to be one of the toughest days for the Internet users in the US. It will be the day when the FCC would reveal a new future of the Internet.

Only time will tell whether the users will be living the rest of their Internet days with complete online freedom or under the servitude of Telecos and ISPs.

As for the current scenario, there are many who are opposing the Net Neutrality rollback, while there are some favoring the repeal. Verizon seems to be amongst those who are favoring Net Neutrality, even though there had been past cases of Verizon throttling accusations and, not to mention, a lawsuit against FCC.

Also read: How To Avoid Post-Net Neutrality Repeal Era Issues?

But, is Verizon’s Net Neutrality support really a genuine concern this time or simply a sham as a strategic cover-up? Let’s find out by looking at the present and past conducts of the telecom giant when it comes to an open Internet.

The Sweet Talker – Verizon on Net Neutrality – The Supporting Claims

Right after Ajit Pai – a former lawyer of Verizon – proposed his plan to kill Net Neutrality, digital rights advocacy groups, Internet activists and other tech giants began protesting the repeal. In fact, an event, The Day of Action, was organized on July 12, 2017 to protest the rollback which ultimately became the largest online protest.

Since all the tech giants were jumping in, Verizon, along with other teleco giants, jumped aboard the bandwagon, claiming their “vague” support for Net Neutrality.

Verizon’s executive, Will Johnson, issued a press release that day in which he stated,

“Today, some companies and organizations are taking part in a “Day of Action” on net neutrality. We respect that and applaud their passion. But for more than a decade this issue has been characterized primarily by slogans and rhetoric, and this has not led to protection of the open Internet on a permanent and predictable basis. So we respectfully suggest that real action will involve people coming together to urge Congress to pass net neutrality legislation once and for all.”

The 700-words long press release also clearly read that the company “supports the open Internet.” However, right after appreciating the participants standing up for a cause and after explaining their perspective of “Right goal, wrong approach”, Verizon stated that although they support the open Internet, they do not accept the rules that “impose 1930s utility regulation on ISPs.

Further in the press release the company agreed that “the FCC is doing the right thing in trying to find a new legal basis for protecting an open Internet.” But right after saying that it retracted to its earlier statement,

“But we’re NOT backing off our consistent support for policies that ensure that consumers will always be able to go where they want, and do what they want.”

Before this press release, Verizon also published a video on YouTube with the title, Where We Stand on Net Neutrality.

In this video, the host interviews the general counsel of Verizon, Craig Silliman, who agrees that the company supports the action of the FCC against the 2-year long ruling of Net Neutrality.

Moreover, in Verizon’s perspective, the FCC, “is not talking about killing net neutrality rules and in fact, not we nor any other ISP are asking them to kill the open internet rules. All they're doing is looking to put the open internet rules in an enforceable way on a different legal footing.

Such comments by Verizon or its representatives are mixed with vague statements that seem to be confusing the readers whether the service really opposes the repeal or supports it.

The Bitter Truth – The Verge’s Take on the Verizon Video

The Verge was amongst the observant eyes that were attracted to the Verizon video because of its ambiguous and perplexing comments. According to the tech news media outlet, whatever the general counsel of Verizon said in the video was “flatly not true.

In fact, the website supported its perspective by weighing the statements with the actual facts. Here’s a little excerpt from The Verge’s blog post:

 

 

 

verizon statement vs reality

Image Credit: Theverge.com

Blast in the Past – Verizon Passed Lawsuit against the FCC

The “Where We Stand on Net Neutrality” video and the earlier press release aren’t the only places where Verizon seems to contradict what it states.

When the FCC Open Internet Order 2010 was established, many opponents of the order were against it as they believed that the rules were too stringent and restrict innovation.

Verizon was amongst the strict opponents of Net Neutrality back then. Verizon not only opposed the FCC rules but in fact it sued the FCC on the grounds that the agency didn’t have the rights to go beyond its authority and impose any restrictions on telecos and ISPs.

The company tried to kill all the three orders that made up the Open Internet Order 2010. However, it failed in terminating the two most important rules that were:

  • No Blocking
  • No Discrimination

These are the same rules that users may possibly have to bid farewell to if the Net Neutrality rollback is passed on December 14, 2017.

As a matter of fact, when the Net Neutrality bill won the vote by 3-2 in 2015, Verizon trolled the ruling by releasing a press release which was written entirely on “Morse Code.”

 

verizon morse code troll

Image Credit: Verizon.com

The Bummer – Tom Wheeler Accused Verizon of Data Throttling

A few years back, Verizon was known for data throttling (speed throttling) on its network. Although data throttling is something that almost all major carriers do but only when the users meet a certain criteria.

For instance, if a user hits a bandwidth cap of 21GB, the carrier may throttle the Internet speed to adjust the network congestion.

However, what made Tom Wheeler, then FCC chairman, uncomfortable with Verizon throttling policy was that the service was imposing its data throttling rules on users who were “no longer under contract”, but they were using old unlimited data plans.

In short, the service was said to have imposed the throttling policy to compel its old customers to jump to new data plans which were high in prices but limited on service usage.

Soon after when the Net Neutrality rules were passed back in 2015, Verizon stopped its data throttling.

The Desperate Move – Verizon Called FCC to Pre-empt State Laws

It is a fact that not every State representative is completely against Net Neutrality. In fact, many openly support it. Therefore, there’s a high chance that state government may come up with laws that protect their users from the aftereffects of Net Neutrality repeal.

Knowing all well the disposition of some state governments to protect their consumers, Verizon recently issued a filing to FCC requesting the agency to “preempt state laws.”

In fact, the company detailed the Section 706(a), Section 153, Section 303, and Section 230(B)(2), impelling FCC to block state laws.

Food For Thought

Although majority of the facts and statements point out to one single fact that Verizon may not be a supporter of Net Neutrality. Still, the company hasn’t come up with a clear stance on this issue.

Regardless, Internet users firmly believe that Verizon is an ardent opponent of Net Neutrality which is why there have been protests at all the Verizon’s stores throughout the US.

An information security analyst in the making, a father of an adorable kid and a technology writer (Contributor). He can be found lurking around top network security blogs, looking for scoops on information security and privacy trends.

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