Verizon: 'Fast lane' debate is 'demagoguery'

Verizon has no plans to create Internet "fast lanes," the company reiterated in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse MORE (D-Vt.) on Wednesday. 

The company said the Federal Communications Commission already has the authority to outlaw the practice without reclassifying broadband Internet as a public utility like traditional telephone service.


"Unfortunately, the fever pitch over 'paid prioritization' and 'fast lanes' among advocates of greater Internet regulation is just demagoguery," Verizon Vice President Randal Milch said in the letter.

Leahy sent letters to a host of Internet service providers last week, calling on them to completely disavow and refrain from engaging in any deals with websites that are able to pay for faster service, sometimes called paid prioritization or fast lane deals. 

The FCC is considering new rules to protect net neutrality, the idea that Internet providers should refrain from slowing or blocking service to particular websites. 

Some advocates want the commission to go further to completely ban fast lanes by reclassifying broadband Internet as a telecommunications service.

The FCC's proposed rules would ban broadband providers from negotiating "commercially unreasonable" deals, leaving room for deals the FCC determines are reasonable.

"As we have said before, and affirm again here, Verizon has no plans to engage in paid prioritization of Internet traffic," Milch said in the letter. 

The company said the debate about fast lanes is nothing more than a "political bait and switch" by advocates who want stronger regulations. The company said the Internet has operated successfully under current rules for two decades. 

"Rather than consumer protection, the driving forces behind the push for more regulation are entities seeking regulatory protection for their business plans and digital elites advocating self-serving policies," Milch said. "Many of these voices have consistently, and wrongly, predicted the imminent demise of the Internet for two decades."