Google And Verizon's Worrisome Proposal For Net Neutrality

Last week, reports swirled that Verizon and Google had struck a deal to effectively end net neutrality. Today the two companies offered their far-tamer suggestions for net neutrality policy, all the while professing their commitment to the "open internet".

On a call this afternoon, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg made one thing quite clear: Last week's reports that there was a business relationship between the companies were "false, misleading and not correct". But the companies have discussed at length how to keep America's internet strong and open, and they've outlined several principles for the US Federal Communications Commission to consider moving forward.

The suggestions, as outlined on a call this afternoon and on the Google Public Policy blog in a post entitled "Joint policy proposal for an open internet", are basically thus:

• Google feels strongly that the internet as we know it, delivered via wired broadband services, should remain neutral in terms of content and traffic should not be discriminated nor blocked. In short: Net neutrality should be enforced over existing wired networks.

• Wireless carriers would be exempt from these strict net neutrality rules, as they have the need to be more flexible in their network management. Still, here, Verizon says that transparency is paramount and the FCC would have the authority to fine "bad actors" in this case.

• Verizon agrees with these tenets but holds out exception for future services that would not be transmitted over the "open internet". By way of example, Seidenberg proposed a situation in which the Metropolitan Opera could pay to deliver its archive in 3D over FiOS TV. Dismissing last week's popular scenario, Schmidt said flatly that Google has no interest in putting YouTube, or anything else, on any network other than the "open internet".

Throughout the call, Verizon and Google stressed their commitment to an "open internet", and it's clear that the product of Google and Verizon's talks was not doomsday scenario that was outlined last week. For a more detailed liveblog of the call, head over to the New York Times. [Google Public Policy Blog]

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