(Photo via Jeff Pulver's Instagram)
“Comcast and I have something in common, which is odd, but once in a while things happen,” the Vonage cofounder said over coffee at Technical.ly Philly’s office in University City.
Pulver, who’s based in New York City, and the telecommunications giant indeed have a common goal: stopping the Federal Communications Commission from classifying broadband companies as “telecommunications services,” which would allow the FCC to regulate them under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. It’s widely thought of as the only way to net neutrality. Comcast has said the move would “harm innovation and investment” by giving the government too much regulatory power over the Internet.
If the FCC goes through with using Title II, “the Internet as we know it will be over,” he said, echoing what opponents of his stance would also say.
Tech companies won’t want to put up with FCC regulations and they’ll move overseas or start charging for apps that were once free, like Skype and FaceTime, Pulver said. Title II is going to hurt consumers, he said, and for what? To protect against something that hasn’t happened yet?
Pulver believes the idea that there would one day be “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the Internet is hogwash.
“It’s utter bullshit,” he said. “I’ve never seen slow lanes before.”
It’s as if the FCC, he said, believes they’re in the Office of Future Crimes and can predict what someone might do in the future.
But what about Netflix?
“Netflix incited several million people to create a riot,” he said.
They got millions of people to write to the FCC and push the Netflix business agenda, he said.
Pulver came to Philly to have a series of meetings about Title II. (A Comcast spokesman told us that the company has met with many individuals and groups to talk about Title II, both those that agree and oppose Comcast’s stance.) For Pulver, it’s more than just a business matter. It’s personal.
Ten years ago, Pulver was fighting a similar fight with the FCC, who considered reclassifying voice over IP as a telecommunications service. That time, he won. The FCC adopted the “Pulver Order,” which declares that the FCC will not regulate VoIP companies.
(That’s why, if you grew up with Skype and FaceTime, which are powered by VoIP, Pulver likes to say: “You’re welcome.”)
He admits there’s also some ego involved in this present-day battle.
“I’m trying to preserve my legacy,” he said. “It’s been an amazing 10 years. If you destroy my legacy, there will be darkness.”-30-
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