Verizon Fights FCC Transparency Rule Change

     (CN) – Urging federal regulators to maintain disclosure requirements, Verizon said that tightening restrictions will mainly serve to confuse customers.
     The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to propose new rules for regulating Internet service like a public utility this week, ahead of a vote on the matter by Feb. 26.
     Verizon pre-empted the announcement with a Monday letter to FCC that urges the agency not to change existing transparency rules to make them needlessly complex.
     “Disclosures must be calibrated so that they do not overwhelm consumers and other recipients with useless data and do not unnecessarily burden providers or undermine vigorous competition between broadband providers,” the letter says.
     The letter is signed by Maggie McCready, Verizon vice president of federal regulatory affairs.
     McCready points to the commission’s 2010 transparency rule as a model that struck the right balance, providing customers with meaningful information about their services without burdening providers.
     The commission has received proposals to expand the rule to require broadband providers to provide real-time performance disclosures on download speeds, but Verizon called the proposals “impracticable.”
     “Service quality metrics vary from moment to moment, and it would be impractical or impossible to collect and disclose this information in real time as some parties have called for,” McCready’s letter states. “Moreover, the constant collection and dissemination of data could itself generate network congestion that undermines performance.”
     Verizon repeatedly questioned consumers’ ability to understand such sophisticated data, and told the commission that such confusing disclosures would simply deter consumers from reviewing the information provided.
     It also said that additional information about network congestion would be particularly problematic for wireless-broadband providers.
     “Congestion-related transparency requirements would ignore factors such as dynamic channel conditions, the number of active users on a cell site, the quality-of-service requirements for the services in use, the amount of available spectrum, and user mobility, all of which can influence the performance of a wireless network,” McCready wrote. “As a result, overly frequent or granular congestion or performance disclosures would be impossible or meaningless because so many different factors could be at play.”
     By the time a customer riding in a car receives a congestion notice, he could already be on another, congestion-free, part of the network, the letter continues.

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