Verizon: Interconnection is Not Net Neutrality Issue

Tells FCC that Title II would definitely be a nonstarter

Verizon told the FCC in a filing Wednesday (Dec. 17) that it needs to keep the issue of interconnection and traffic exchange among networks separate from the open Internet proceedings and that, in any event, it cannot apply Title II regs to interconnection, as some have proposed.

One proposed hybrid Sec. 706/Title II proposal suggests applying net neutrality regs to interconnection agreements between broadband networks including to last-mile networks.

Verizon calls that "misplaced and wrong." It points out, as have others, that the FCC itself has historically deemed those interconnection agreements distinct from network neutrality. It also says those agreements are "quintessentially private carriage agreements and cannot be regulated as common carriage.

Netflix for one has argued that commercially negotiated paid peering arrangements should be part of the network neutrality order because they allow ISPs to move discrimination from the last mile to points of network interconnection. "Strong net neutrality additionally prevents ISPs from charging a toll for interconnection to services like Netflix, YouTube, or Skype, or intermediaries such as Cogent, Akamai or Level 3," the company has blogged and told the FCC in comments on the Open Internet order.

Verizon says that net neutrality remains a last-mile issue, and that interconnection agreements are individualized responses to the business models of some content providers, like Netflix, which "have consumed an increasingly large share of Internet traffic."

Verizon told the FCC that regulating interconnection agreements, "would only cripple this flexible, market-based dynamic that has played a key role in the explosive growth of the Internet."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has given some indications that a Title II regime is workable, and he is on the record as saying the FCC needs to address interconnection. But he has also said that interconnection is a separate issue from net neutrality.