Shareholder Group: Vote Yes on Network Neutrality, for the Good of Investors, Telecom Companies and the Economy
BOSTON, April 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — As shareholders of AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Sprint (NYSE: S) prepare to vote for the first time to uphold network neutrality policies on wireless networks, Trillium Asset Management, LLC (“Trillium”), an investment management firm, wrote an open letter to fellow Verizon shareholders today urging a yes vote on network neutrality to protect their investments, the economy, under-represented communities and the interests of all wireless consumers.
“In light of the huge financial and social benefits of an open Internet, we call on shareholders to tell these companies that providing preferential treatment for some content while discriminating against other content is unacceptable,” said Trillium Vice President Jonas Kron. “We believe the weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates that network neutrality is in the interests of the companies’ shareholders as well as the interests of all consumers.”
“Given this issue’s potential significance for the future of these companies, our economy and our society, we believe that investors should support these proposals,” stated Laura Campos, director of shareholder activities at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the lead filer of the Sprint proposal. “America has long prospered when principles of freedom and liberty are honored, and for the sake of its reputation and long-term financial health, we hope that Sprint will now embrace these principles in the operation of its wireless broadband networks.”
Network neutrality is a core principle that has guided the Internet since its inception. This principle enables an open Internet by making sure that companies that provide Internet access treat all content equally–regardless of source, destination or ownership. This prevents a handful of large companies from paying wireless providers premium rates in exchange for faster speeds on their sites than others receive. Without it, consumers risk experiencing a dramatically different Internet, where large corporate sites able to pay premium costs load and operate at fast speeds while smaller newer sites struggle to function and compete with slower speeds.
The recent letter is in support of the shareholder proposal at Verizon that asks the company to publicly commit to operating its wireless broadband networks in a manner consistent with network neutrality principles. Trillium issued a similar letter to AT&T shareholders last week and a letter regarding a similar shareholder proposal filed at Sprint will be issued in the coming weeks.
Trillium’s letter cites economic studies from McKinsey, New York University, University of Florida and University of Notre Dame that suggest “enormous financial benefits” created by the current open Internet governed by network neutrality. It also expresses concern that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will “tamper with this engine of economic growth” by creating “fast lanes” on their wireless networks for those willing and able to pay a premium.
These proposals come at a time of explosive growth of wireless Internet use. A recent study by Cisco concluded that from 2011 through 2016 global mobile data traffic will increase 18 times. Mobile Internet users will outnumber traditional wireline users in the United States by 2015, according to the research firm IDC.
Trillium Vice President, Jonas Kron will address AT&T shareholders, senior management and board members at the company’s annual meeting on April 27, 2012. Verizon’s annual shareholder meeting will be held on May 3, 2012 and Sprint’s on May 15, 2012.
The scheduled votes follow a significant victory for investors. In February 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected AT&T’s, Verizon’s and Sprint’s efforts to censor their shareholders by attempting to deny shareholders their right to put these matters on the companies’ proxies.
Trillium Asset Management, LLC is the oldest independent investment advisor devoted exclusively to sustainable and responsible investing. With over $1 billion in assets under management, Trillium has been managing equity and fixed income investments for high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments, religious institutions, and other nonprofits, since 1982. A leader in shareholder advocacy and public policy work, Trillium’s goal is to deliver both impact and performance to its investors.
The views expressed are those of the authors and Trillium Asset Management, LLC as of the date referenced and are subject to change at any time based on market or other conditions. These views are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice. The information provided in this material should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such securities have been or will be profitable. To the extent specific securities are mentioned, they have been selected by the authors on an objective basis to illustrate views expressed in the commentary and do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended for advisory clients. The information contained herein has been prepared from sources believed reliable but is not guaranteed by us as to its timeliness or accuracy, and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. This piece is for informational purposes and should not be construed as a research report.
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Contact: Randy Rice, Trillium Asset Management, LLC – 617-423-6655
SOURCE Trillium Asset Management, LLC