Verizon – Network Neutrality (2011)
Outcome: Omitted by SEC
A free and open Internet is critical to our nation’s economy and society.
To maintain its many benefits, broad non-discrimination principles must be vigorously applied to the fastest-growing segment of the Internet – wireless broadband networks.
These non-discrimination principles are commonly referred to as “network neutrality.” According to the Congressional Research Service, network neutrality seeks “to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment” for all content.
Network neutrality rules are needed to “facilitate the growth of the Internet and give private companies the correct incentives to continue investing in this significantly valuable good,” according to a 2010 report by the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law, which finds that an open Internet accounts for billions of dollars of economic value for Americans.
The principle of non-discrimination has been an engine for economic growth, empowering millions of America’s small and medium-sized businesses through direct access to the Internet. Musicians and creative artists rely on open Internet principles, for access to audiences.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Genachowski has said that a free and open Internet must play a critical role in solving the “great challenges [we face] as a nation right now, including health care, education, energy, and public safety.”
Widespread support of network neutrality is demonstrated by letters to the FCC from thousands of organizations including the American Library Association, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Consumer Federation of America.
Open Internet policies on wireless networks have particular importance for minority and economically disadvantaged communities. People of color access the Internet via cell phones at a much greater rate than their white counterparts, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In 2010, Pew reported, only 33% of whites accessed the Internet on cell phones compared to 51% of English-speaking Latinos and 46% of African Americans; 30% of whites sent or received e-mail on cell phones compared to 47% of Latinos and 41% of African-Americans.
“The digital freedoms at stake are a 21st century civil rights issue,” says Colorofchange.org, an organization representing black Americans. Network neutrality on wireless networks is essential “to avoid unintentionally treating communities of color, people living in rural areas, and the poor as second-class digital citizens,” according to an FCC filing by Latinos for Internet Freedom and a coalition of over 150 organizations representing the poor and communities of color.
Our Company has operated with de facto network neutrality policies for many years. With network neutrality, we believe content innovation will prosper, furthering demand for ubiquitous high-speed Internet access on wireless networks. Conversely, failure to embrace non-discrimination principles will open our Company to potential competitive, legal and reputational risk.
Shareholders request the company publicly commit to operate its wireless broadband network consistent with Internet network neutrality principles – i.e., operate a neutral network with neutral routing along the company’s wireless infrastructure such that the company does not privilege, degrade or prioritize any packet transmitted over its wireless infrastructure based on its source, ownership or destination.