Google, Verizon Propose Net Neutrality Compromise

  • Google
  • Net Neutrality
  • Verizon
In the wake of last week's rumors that Google and Verizon were planning an agreement giving Google applications priority on Verizon's networks, the two companies jointly proposed a new "open Internet" scheme that would outlaw such agreements. The proposal, posted on Google's blog by Alan Davidson, Google director of public policy, and Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications, begins, "The original architects of the Internet got the big things right. By making the network open, they enabled the greatest exchange of ideas in history. By making the Internet scalable, they enabled explosive innovation in the infrastructure."

The proposal includes some features favorable to Google and other content providers (nondiscriminatory Internet access, clear FCC enforcement authority) and others favorable to Verizon and other large providers (exemption for wireless, exemption for new services, USF funding for broadband in rural areas neglected by the RBOCS). It does not address most of the concerns of smaller providers. Whether it addresses those of the FCC or Congress remains to be seen.

The proposal has seven key elements:

1. The FCC’s four current wireline broadband openness principles, whose enforceability was called into question by the recent Comcast court decision, should be fully enforceable by the FCC.

2. In addition, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against -- or, conversely, prioritize -- lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition. Wireline broadband providers could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.

3. Broadband providers, both wireline and wireless, would have to reveal information about services, network capabilities and network management practices.

4. The FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. 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.

5. Broadband providers could offer additional services such as health care monitoring, smart-grid applications, educational services, or other entertainment and gaming options that would presumably fall outside the regulatory scheme as long as they "are not designed to circumvent the rules" and "don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services."

6. Wireless providers would have to meet only the transparency requirement (point 3 above) and would otherwise be exempt from the rules.

7. The Universal Service Fund would be focused on deploying broadband in areas where it is not now available.


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