Google and Verizon held a press conference today to address concerns that it is conspiring to undermine net neutrality. Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said the companies are committed to an open Internet for wireline broadband and for wireless broadband to have similar openness with a few caveats.
The companies issued a joint proposal about how the government should approach any regulations for the Internet regarding net neutrality. It made it very clear that this wasn’t a business deal but more of a joint statement on how both will approach the public Internet and it hopes other companies and government regulators will follow suit.
“There is no prioritzation of traffic that would come from Google under any circumstances,” Seidenberg said. “As far as we’re concerend, there will be no paid prioritization.”
The first point talks about how the FCC should be able to enforce principals. This was under some question after it lost a court ruling saying it had no authority over broadband providers but that may change soon.
Secondly, Google and Verizon argue that broadband providers shouldn’t be able to prioritize lawful Internet content. A Comcast, for example, wouldn’t be able to deliver its NBC programming at a higher quality over its network than a YouTube or CBS video.
The companies also said customers should be fully informed of what broadband (wireless and wireline) services it’s getting and how much it’s paying for these. The companies also want the FCC to have some stronger tools of enforcement.
“Specifically, the FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process,” the companies said in its joint proposal. “The FCC could move swiftly to stop a practice that violates these safeguards, and it could impose a penalty of up to $2 million on bad actors.”
Google and Verizon also think the broadband providers should be “platforms for innovation,” which means having the ability to offer differentiated services that are not over the public Internet and therefore won’t be subject to these rules. For example, if a content provider like Google with YouTube wants to provide a 3D service with a higher user experience, it should have the freedom to work with a broadband provider under a different set of rules. This would not entail paid prioritization but both companies don’t want to limit future innovation.
Don’t look for Google to move off the Internet for services though.
“We love the Internet and we have no intentions of using anything other than the Internet,” Schmidt said.
The sixth point is where things get a little murky, as the companies admit that the wireless broadband world is different and would not need the transparency requirement. Many of the other initiatives would still apply to the wireless world, however.
This last point is where things get really interesting because there is a legitimate scarcity with mobile spectrum, which could require more content management. Hopefully, the industry will get some more spectrum and the net neutrality proposals Google and Verizon are pining for can come to the mobile space.
Google and Verizon also said it supports the reform of the Universal Service Fund to deploy broadband to those who don’t have it.
[Via Google policy blog]