RealTime IT News

Verizon CEO: Fed Moves Could Jump-Start Industry

NEWTON, Mass. -- Relaxing federal regulations on Baby Bells and establishing a national broadband policy will jump-start the IT sector and broader economy, Ivan Seidenberg, president and CEO of Verizon Communications , told about 250 members of the Massachusetts Software & Internet Council at its fall membership meeting this morning.

"Public policy (makers) spend more time trying to carve up our company than creating a focus on what they can do to promote new technologies," Seidenberg said.

Among Washington dictums Verizon finds more egregious are: opening lines and facilities, which it paid millions of dollars to develop, to competitors; pricing controls; and subsidiary rules that require the company to set up a separate entity for some services, running additional overhead costs.

Combined with a faltering economy, regulations caused Verizon, the New York firm formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE in 2000, to cut investment in capital expenses in the Bay State alone by approximately 40 percent over the past two years to between $500 million and $600 million.

If communications companies can devote more money to new technologies, it will help smaller players, Seidenberg said, noting that Verizon "buys a lot of software."

Likewise, adopting an ambitious goal for the number of households and businesses with high-speed Internet connections would also spur the sector. Extended access will undoubtedly drive development of new Web enabled devices and home networking systems, as well as improve distance learning and telecommuting opportunities.

Seidenberg acknowledges that bumping the number of broadband users would be good for Verizon's business. He contends however that it would also help end users and competitors that use the company's networks.

The call echoed an address from 3Com Chairman Eric Benhamou who addressed the MS&I Council in January. Benhamou, a member of the The Technology Network, a San Jose, Calif., industry lobbying group, want to connect 100 million U.S. homes and small businesses to high-speed Internet by 2010.

In conclusion, Seidenberg urge MS&I Council members to contact their lawmakers on the issues of regulation and broadband policy, which the goal of showing decision makers the wide-ranging repercussions of their actions.

"This is our fight, I hope you'll make this your fight as well," he said.