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Google/Verizon “Open Internet” Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews

Skeptics Question Differentiation of Services and Wireless Stance

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Update: Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg added some commentary in a Washington Post article today.

Original Article: Today Google and Verizon held a joint press conference, and issued a joint policy proposal for an Open Internet, as they say. The companies appear to be promoting an Open Internet indeed, but there remains a great deal of skepticism about the policy proposal. Really, could it have gone any other way?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This is the kind of thing you don’t want to just sit back and not question. You can expect a great deal of commentary about this to emerge (there is already quite a bit) as analysts have more time to look at the proposal and its implications, and let the information sink in, while playing out possible scenarios.

Google and Verizon  have explained the proposal here, outlining seven principles that it embodies (Verizon has posted it as well). The proposal, intended for consideration by policymakers and the public is embedded below.

Verizon-Google Legislative Framework Proposal

Danny Sullivan has a liveblogged account of the actual press conference here.

While the proposal focuses heavily on giving the FCC the power to regulate the broadband industry, one of the biggest criticisms it has drawn so far is the separate treatment of wireless broadband.

The companies say, "We both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers."

An example of the criticism this has invoked, comes right in the comments on Google’s blog post itself, "How exactly is wireless access different just because it is more competitive? Isn’t this a tad hypocritical? Everything is net-neutral except our oh-so-precious Android/Verizon traffic. Geez!" writes commenter Vishnu Gopal.

Jan-David Jansen says (also in the comments), "Way to find a loophole in Net Neutrality via wireless, Google. ‘We will NOT prioritize our content (unless it’s on wireless which is the future of networking…).’"

Some have also taken issue with the companies’ description of "Differentiated online services". This refers to the part in which the companies say, "We want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon’s FIOS TV) offered today."

You can count on the fact that the companies will get plenty of "public comment" on their ideas, though it will not all be harsh criticism. Along with the skepticism, there is already a lot of praise for the proposal as well.

Either way, this is simply a proposal for policymakers to look at, and in now way indicates that all of the principles outlined will become law. There’s no telling what the actual legislators will come up with.

Google/Verizon “Open Internet” Proposal Draws Mixed Reviews
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  • http://www.medlawplus.com medlaw

    Sounds like Google and Verizon are offering a tradeoff: better regulation of the “current internet architecture” in exchange for codified deregulation of things such as wireless broadband that fall outside of what the partners deem to be the “current internet architecture”. Wireless is the future of the internet. My gut reaction is that this is like MaBell coming to the government back in the 80s and agreeing to greater regulation of land phone lines in exchange for an agreement to deregulate the emerging wireless cellphone market. I just don’t have the same trust in Google I once possessed just one year ago.

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