May 16, 2013
Verizon's new head of public policy outlined the framework policymakers in
should consider in modernizing the nation's outdated telecom rules and regulations. Verizon believes that obsolete and unnecessary rules – some of which date back to the late 1800s, and were written for the railroads and to create the Interstate Commerce Commission – work against innovation and investment in the Internet ecosystem.
Speaking at the Media Institute on Thursday (
, Verizon's senior vice president of public policy and government relations, said in prepared remarks: "A highly innovative 21
century communications marketplace requires a 21
century policy framework to match the Internet ecosystem that broadband and mobile innovations have helped create. We need a framework to address today's issues: not local wireline voice competition, but privacy, cybersecurity, network management, spectrum policy and more, many of which have a global component."
In his speech, Silliman outlined four principles that he believes policymakers should focus on: protecting consumers, encouraging innovation, incenting investment, and, with rapid changes in the industry, technology-agnostic rules that focus on the needs of consumers and ensure flexibility as new innovations and business models emerge.
"Technology changes too quickly to build legislative or regulatory frameworks on specific technologies," said Silliman. "The best approach is to protect consumers and to ensure that the rules aren't obsolete as soon as the ink is dry."
It has been almost 20 years since Congress overhauled telecom rules – the 1996 Telecommunications Act – when many of today's technologies were closer to science fiction than fact.
"The act could not have anticipated the policy challenges that we would face 20 years later, particularly given the extraordinary rate of innovation," Silliman said. "It has been only six years since the first smartphone was released, so 20 years is an eternity. What guidance does the 1996 act provide in a world where everyone is carrying a broadband cloud-access device with them? Where video content can be accessed anytime, from anywhere? Where these technologies are beginning to be applied to broader societal challenges like healthcare, energy management, education and more? Not much. Nor should we expect it to."