NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights group, recently offered a new way for members to stay in the loop: mobile-phone text messages. But the operator of the country's second most popular mobile phone network, Verizon Wireless, turned down NARAL's request for a text-messaging "short code" -- the five-digit address that NARAL members would use to get updates. The company explained that its messaging system was closed to groups with content or an agenda that "may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users."
This ill-considered decision breathed new life into the drive for "Net neutrality" rules, which would bar Internet access providers from favoring or blocking any legal content, application or service. It also may help stiffen the Federal Communication Commission's resolve to keep a small group of frequencies in the 700-megahertz band open to any device or application.
Verizon, which co-owns Verizon Wireless with European telecommunications giant Vodafone, had been a leading opponent of such regulations. In addition to vigorously lobbying Congress against Net neutrality proposals, it has asked a federal judge to throw out the FCC's openness requirements for the 700-MHz band. The company and its allies have argued that the regulations would impede innovation and that there is no evidence of network operators blocking content.