The statement marks a continuation of Leahy's efforts to extract no-fast-lane promises from Internet service providers.
At the end of October, Leahy had asked Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Charter to vow to refrain from forging fast-lane deals with content companies. The companies all responded that they don't now engage in paid prioritization, or have plans to do so.
Verizon, for instance, wrote: “No major broadband provider has ever implemented paid prioritization, most have disavowed any interest in doing so, and no one has even offered a clear business case for paid prioritization. As we have said before, and affirm again here, Verizon has no plans to engage in paid prioritization of Internet traffic.”
But as Leahy pointed out, all of the companies left their future options open.
“What they did not do was answer my call for a firm commitment that they will never engage in that behavior in the absence of clear rules prohibiting such deals,” he
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission is still weighing whether to reclassify broadband service as a utility, which would set the stage for new net neutrality rules that would ban paid fast lanes.
Many observers, including President Barack Obama, have urged the FCC to do so. Around 3.9 million people weighed in on net neutrality by submitting comments to the FCC; many of those commenters urged the agency to impose the kinds of rules that would ban paid fast lanes. Broadband providers, on the other hand, say they will fight any attempt to regulate them like utility companies.
The FCC is expected to take up the question again next year.
For his part, Leahy says he intends to push ISPs “to listen to their customers and pledge to never engage in paid prioritization.”