In a bad sign for everyone interested in protecting net neutrality, the chief financial officer of Verizon has said that he believes the FCC will make the "right decision" on how to regulate internet service — clearly suggesting that it'll ultimately choose to use a far lighter touch than what President Obama is looking for. "I think the independent agency of the FCC will make the right decision," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told investors this morning, according to Reuters, reaffirming his confidence in internet providers' ability to sway public policy.
'Right' is debatable, but Verizon may just get what it wants
Shammo's statement follows a report saying that even immediately after Obama's declaration of support for regulating broadband like a utility, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was telling internet companies that he didn't favor that approach. Wheeler's public statement echoed that too, instead bringing up the "hybrid" approach that the commission is now investigating. This would potentially still allow for internet providers to offer fast lanes, and make internet providers like Verizon much happier. Wheeler has also continued to emphasize that the FCC is an independent agency that does not have to follow Obama's directions.
Already, other major providers have come out against Obama's plan. Comcast and T-Mobile have said that using Title II regulation will hurt future innovation, and AT&T is halting plans to roll out high-speed fiber connections to 100 cities until the FCC comes to a decision — basically using that rollout as leverage to sway the commission's decision, regardless of whether its reasoning actually makes sense. AT&T also said it could take up to a few years for the FCC to deal with the lawsuits that would ultimately arise from providers if it were to take strong regulatory action.