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Verizon CEO Predicts Doom And Gloom Over Pending Ruling

At Supercomm 2009, Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications keynote, kicked off the day with a rousing talk about how broadband is changing our lives and why the FCC should butt out of setting Internet policy. Luckily I was traveling and couldn't attend or I'd have been tempted to pull a "Joe Wilson" and shout "You lie!" (that was sarcasm, by the way) Verizon has the transcript on-line. You can probably guess where my jaw hit the floor.

Seidenberg talks about all the exciting things that are happening due to the Internet, like the digital economy, social media and streaming media. He glimpsed the future with the smart grid, smart homes, etc. Then the shoe dropped. The FCC will be releasing its order on net neutrality the next day and he is not confident--no provider of broadband provider seems to be confident--that the FCC will ruling will be favorable to arbitrary bandwidth throttling rules.

See, the broadband providers--not content to supply smart, robust pipes to consumers--want a cut of the profits companies like Amazon and Google are making. The claim being the profitable web companies are riding for free across the Internet (let's forget for the moment that those same companies pay a lot of money for their end of the bandwidth just like consumers pay).

Then out trots the FUD. Verizon detects and crushes 5 billion security events per day and if Verizon can't do that, then telesurgery and  heartbeat monitoring will be threatened. If my doctor is performing telesurgery or my healthcare provider is monitoring my heartbeat using the Internet as a backbone, I want new healthcare providers. Sorry, the Internet is nowhere near reliable enough for healthcare applications like that. That is why service providers offer private networking services, because they are more reliable.

Then came the gloom and doom that net neutrality will cause the digital economy to implode because we can't get 100 gig to the home (as if home users even max out their capacity now). "The FCC," in Seidenberg's opinion, "would be favoring one set of competitors over another. The last time that happened we got a regime of unsustainable investment and artificial competition that led to ill-fated speculation." I don't see Google or Amazon trying to get into Verizon's broadband business. Did I miss a memo? Oh, I know, Google talked about TiSP Beta in 2007, but flushed that down the tubes.

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