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Monday, 9th August 2010

Press Review: Google and Verizon Announce a Joint Proposal for an Open Internet

+ UPDATED 1: August 9, 2010 (6:30 pm): We have started to add in reactions from several groups. They are under the "Reaction" near the bottom of the page.

+ UPDATE 2: FCC Commissioner Michael Copps Has Issued a One Paragraph Public Statement about the Google/Verizon Announcement (PDF)

+ UPDATE 3: From Google and Verizon, a path to an open Internet (by Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg)
Both CEO's have written this op-ed for the Washington Post.

“Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That’s one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward—a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.”

Editorials

1) Editorial From Seattle Times: Keep The Internet Open, Accessible, Creative

2) Net neutrality and the Google-Verizon Compromise (via the Christian Science Monitor)

The Announcement: Blogged Live and Reported On

+ A few minutes before the call, Google and Verizon released the seven point proposal officially titled, "A Joint Policy Proposal for an Open Internet."

You can also read the proposal as its own document (via Scribd) here.

+ Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land "Live Blogged" the Call.vA Must Read

+ Google & Verizon Propose Enforceable Net Neutrality (by Marshall Kirkpatrick, RWW)
Kirkpatrick notes that "broadband experts are skeptical."

Kirkpatrick writes, the announcement is, "a joint legislative framework proposal: internet network transparency and FCC enforcement with up to $2 million fines for network providers that engage in anti-competitive measures that hurt consumers."

He adds:

Press cynicism runs deep, though, and questions about loopholes and dark hidden intentions are still being asked. Probably rightly so, but executives on the call sound really annoyed that people are still looking for "conspiracy theories" while they believe they are offering good faith statements for the good of the internet.

Btw, Marshall does mention an important (and very funny point) (-:

There has been no mention yet of an internet browsing brain implant to be offered by either company.

+ Google, Verizon CEOs announce pact for no wireless net neutrality rules, some paid prioritization (by Cecilia Kang, Washington Post)

The deal in a nutshell:

1) No net neutrality rules for mobile networks, except for a "transparency" requirement that makes public how traffic is managed.

2) A green light on "managed services" that would allow for special priority for some content on other parts of the pipe, but not the public Internet.

Kang adds:

This is not going to be a popular announcement among advocates of net neutrality, particularly public interest groups. Google said it doesn't want to play in the sandbox of managed service. "We like the public Internet," Schmidt said in the call. But some say this will give an unfair advantage to companies that are able to pay for priority access (imagine a Netflix channel on FiOs offered at better quality).

+ Google and Verizon unveil web plan (by Richard Waters, Financial Times)

Eric Schmidt, CEO, on Monday issued a strong defence of his company’s position. Google continue to believe strongly in an open internet supporting future generations of internet upstarts, he said.

To back up his claim, Mr Schmidt said that Google would not pay to be carried on the new “fast lanes” it was proposing, but would use the existing public internet for all its services, including the YouTube online video service.

+ Google, Verizon Release Internet Proposal (by WSJ, Scott Morrison and Roger Cheng)

In a significant exception, the principles wouldn't apply to Internet services provided over cellphone networks, in part, the companies said, because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly.

[Clip]

"Google and Verizon can try all they want to disguise this deal as a reasonable path forward, but the simple fact is this framework, if embraced by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, would transform the free and open Internet into a closed platform like cable," said Joel Kelsey, adviser to media watchdog Free Press.

Some believe the incentive to provide more private networks would lead to less investment in the public Internet, but Mr. Seidenberg said Google has shown Verizon more ways to make money off of the public broadband business.

The lack of a mobile component in the proposal may be a stumbling block for the two companies. The FCC is seeking to extend its policy control over the mobile Internet as more data moves over wireless networks.

+ Google-Verizon plan: Why you should worry (by Dan Gillmor at Salon)

The other big news in today's announcement was Google's clear retreat on network neutrality when it comes to wireless networks. As Susan Crawford, professor at Cardozo Law School and an expert on all things Internet, explains: "That’s a huge hole, given the growing popularity of wireless services and the recent suggestion by the Commission that we may not have a competitive wireless marketplace."

+ Here’s The Real Google/Verizon Story: A Tale of Two Internets (by Eliot Van Buskirk via Wired)

But if Google’s and Verizon’s proposal goes through, we really would have two internets — one free, where Google pledges to stay, another paid, where services such as 3D television, remote medical procedures, and bandwidth-intensive games appear — for a price.

+ Leadership (by Susan Crawford, Susan Crawford Blog)

I don’t blame them for trying. These are profit-making companies, not regulators and not advocacy groups. I’m sure Google, in particular, is tired of the multi-year slog that has gone into the net neutrality debate - and tired of being made the poster-child for the issue as other major online companies have steadily backed away.

The key takeaway from today’s announcement is that it underscores the urgency of FCC action to ensure that it has jurisdiction to speak to American companies about high-speed Internet access. As someone told me today - snappy line - the agency is being disintermediated.

MORE AFTER A CLICK

+ Google, Verizon propose Net neutrality framework (by Marguerite Reardon and Tom Krazit via CNET)

"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," the companies' policy proposal states. "This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services.

Some examples of services the companies mention include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. During a conference call with reporters, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg further explained that Verizon wanted to keep the option for broadband providers to sell network capacity to companies willing to pay for that service to deliver higher quality service.

+ NCTA [National Cable & Telecommunications Association] Verizon/Google Principles Are Positive Sign (By John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable)

National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Brian Dietz had no comment on the specifics of the announcement, which included allowing managed services and not applying most of the principles to wireless broadband delivery, but he saw the agreement as a signal of a possible wider agreement.

"[I]t is a positive sign that two companies with divergent views on the need for regulation can reach agreement on this complicated set of issues. We remain focused and committed to exploring a targeted legislative framework that can be applied more broadly across all industry players. The Google-Verizon announcement shows that it is possible for compromise and that we can reach a constructive solution."

+ About That Open Internet Thing (by James Grimmelmann, The Laboratorium)

Like he always does Professor Grimmelmann offers some interesting and provocative comments worthy of further thought and discussion.

I have no comment on the substance of the proposal. I have been reading and thinking about openness and neutrality for some time, and don’t yet feel that I know enough to offer an informed opinion about whether network neutrality is a good technical or policy idea, which forms of monopoly and closure to be most concerned about in the wireless world, or such matters. These are hard questions, and I am very suspicious of anyone who professes certainty.

I would like to say, though, that this secretly negotiated private “deal” is a terrible, terrible blunder on Google’s part, considered purely from the perspective of its own self-interest. Google has enjoyed a generally good relationship with many activists and civil society groups who want to protect individual freedoms online. Even if what Google is now proposing is good policy, the backroom nature of the process sends an unmistakable message to Google’s erstwhile allies: we’re with you only as long as it’s convenient for us.

Once that message sinks in, I expect many of them to take a long, hard look not just at where Google stands, but at where it could stand, on issues that they care about. Some of them are likely to shift into the “skeptics” column, to start sounding more like Siva Vaidhyanathan and Consumer Watchdog.

+ Google, Verizon Would Exclude Mobile Web From Rules (by Amy Thomson)

Google and Verizon argue that the mobile-Internet market is more competitive and changing rapidly, and therefore different from the wireline market. Critics say the proposal would let Verizon and other carriers discriminate against certain traffic, possibly favoring their own services.

“This is exactly what net-neutrality supporters have feared all along -- an open door for Internet providers to control content indiscriminately,” said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a non-profit group in Washington focused on policy and the media. “This is an attempt by Google and Verizon to self-regulate the same way the banks did in the run up to the banking crisis.”

Note: Embedded in the Report is a Video Clip

Darrell West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, talks with Bloomberg's Mark Crumpton and Julie Hyman about a joint policy proposal by Verizon Communications Inc. and Google Inc.

Added to Compilation on Tuesday, August 10, 2010

+ Web Plan From Google and Verizon Is Criticized (by Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft via NY Times)

But some expressed fears that this exception could let companies bypass open-access regulations. For example, an online video start-up could create a competitor to YouTube that did not run on the public Internet and would pay for faster connections to viewers. As those types of payments grew, the access companies might have less incentive to invest in Internet capacity, pushing more content providers to these special services and creating alternative networks that look similar to cable TV.

Jason Hirschhorn, a former president of MySpace and a former executive at MTV Networks, said more questions about the proposal needed to be answered, since the exceptions for new services could be interpreted as “just another way of going against net neutrality.”

“Imagine a world where ABC, Comedy Central, MTV, any of these brands, were on some other network, and then there was this open Internet,” he said.

Tech Companies, Google Sold You Out (by Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOm)

So Google sold the tech world out as it hopes to keep one of the largest pushers of its Android operating system happy...Google gives a little but wins, Verizon gives a little, but wins, and consumers and innovation ultimately lose. That’s usually how these compromises work.

REACTIONS (All of These Are the Full Text Announcements)

+ UPDATED: Aug 10, 2010: Google and the Backroom (via Open Book Alliance)

+ Google-Verizon Pact Worse than Feared

+ Public Knowledge Says Google-Verizon Proposal Seeks to Strip FCC of Enforcement Powers

+ Google Goes "Evil" (by Adam Green, Huffington Post)
Note: Mr. Green is the Co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

+ Google-Verizon Broadband Proposal Undermines Internet, Consumer Watchdog Says

+ Center for Democracy and Technology Statement on Google-Verizon Legislative Proposal for the Internet

+ Evil Google joins forces with Verizon to sabotage the future of the open Internet (via Northwest Progressive Institute)

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