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Verizon's Chicken Little Lays An Egg

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-10

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Verizon says not to worry, they've got Net Neutrality covered. They're quite appalled, too, at the "cock-and-bull" and "Chicken Little stories" making the rounds in Congress and the press, which is why they've launched an aggressive PR campaign aimed at transcending the "rhetorical excesses" of their opponents.

While they're transcending, we should disregard Verizon's Senior Vice President and Deputy General John Thorne, who in February bemoaned Google's "free lunch" washed down with a glass of "spiked Kool-Aid."

In a Monday conference call, intended to brief "free market type" bloggers on the basics of Net Neutrality and win support for pro-telecom legislation in Congress, Verizon veep Link Hoewing and former Congressional Republican press secretary John S. Czwartacki let callers know that John Thorne didn't a have a dog in this fight.

Callers, some of whom represented Media Citizen, FreePress.net, and HuffingtonPost, were told to pay more attention to Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications.

Sorry about all the titles. In summary: some ranking Verizon executives think we should disregard John Thorne, and listen to Tom Tauke. Excessive rhetoric? No, that was quite succinct I think. Anyway, on with it.

In a statement Tuesday, Tauke warns that Net Neutrality legislation could "stall or derail" building out broadband infrastructure, and that the idea broadband providers could deny access to certain websites was "akin to Starbucks hatching a plan to secretly serve customers Folgers crystals - on paper it makes them more money; in reality it puts them out of business."

During Monday's conference call, Czwartacki agreed. He said blocking access to content was like saying "Starbucks has a secret plan to replace their coffee with Folger's crystals." At least they're working on that whole consistency of message thing. Good form.

Net Neutrality ideas are also upsetting to Verizon's chief congressional lobbyist, Peter Davidson, who warned the financial services industry in a memo that their secure networks were in danger if pro-Net Neutrality legislation was passed:

"They are being fed a lot of cock-and-bull, Chicken Little stories about how the future of their industry is at stake because another network industry might have the freedom to price broadband services according to market demand," said Davidson.

The cock-and-bull he's speaking of is the fear that telecoms will set up a discriminatory, monopolistic, and tiered Internet in their efforts to more easily enter the IPTV industry and maximize profits. In doing so, the digital divide could widen, limiting the ability of small startups to enter the market, discourage innovation, retard the ability to get the information freely accessible on the web today, and possibly could impact free speech.

From the telecom's side of it, network neutral legislation guaranteeing they follow a few basic principles would create the fabled "end of the Internet," wreck whole financial institutions, cause a grinding halt to innovation and block access to important medical services (like a closed circuit doctor-patient channel called Telemedicine).

Net Neutrality advocates may find it a tad ironic that Verizon employees are using their own excessive doomsday rhetoric to debunk competing "Chicken Little" viewpoints. Their sky must be higher than the one above everyone else, because it sounds like it'll hit a lot harder.


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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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