Report: Verizon FiOS claimed public utility status to get government perks

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Verizon and the rest of the country's biggest Internet service providers joined forces to argue that so-called "common carrier" regulations for utilities shouldn't be applied to broadband.

Such rules would force the Internet service providers (ISPs) to innovate less and spend less money than they do today on network upgrades, they argue. Yet Verizon obtains a variety of perks from the government for its FiOS Internet service by using public utility rules to its advantage, a new report drawing on public documents says.

“It's the secret that's been hiding in plain sight,” said Harold Feld, senior VP of Public Knowledge and an expert on the Federal Communications Commission and telecommunications. “At the exact moment that these guys are complaining about how awful Title II is, they are trying to enjoy all the privileges of Title II on the regulated side.”

“There's nothing illegal about it,” said Feld, who wasn’t involved in writing the report. However, “as a political point this is very useful.” Bruce Kushnick, telecommunications analyst, points to a New Jersey franchise agreement which states, "The construction of Verizon NJ’s fiber-to-the-premises FTTP network (the FTTP network) is being performed under the authority of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and under the appropriate state telecommunications authority granted to Verizon NJ."

Report: Verizon FiOS claimed public utility status to get government perks It’s All Interconnected: Oversight and Action is Required to Protect Verizon New York Telephone Customers and Expand Broadband Services (Public Utility Law Project of New York)