(2010-08-05) Google Verizon Non Neutrality Deal

Edward Wyatt at the Ny Times reported that Google and Verizon were making a secret deal flying in the face of Net Neutrality, that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators (e.g. YouTube) are willing to pay for the privilege.

Both parties claim the reporting is inaccurate

  • Verizon said our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.

  • Google said We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet.

Aug09 update:

  • they made their joint policy recommendation announcement.

    • Our proposal would allow Broad Band providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules.

    • 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 other words, no Net Neutrality at all for Mobile?

  • they consider this consistent with their Oct'2010 joint statement: broadband network providers should have the flexibility to manage their networks to deal with issues like traffic congestion, spam, "malware" and denial of service attacks, as well as other threats that may emerge in the future -- so long as they do it reasonably, consistent with their customers' preferences, and don't unreasonably discriminate in ways that either harm users or are anti-competitive. They should also be free to offer managed network services, such as IP television.

  • Dan Gillmor fears they're talking about a parallel non-InterNet, where carriers would end up targeting all their investment.

  • Gigi Sohn puts in the context of recent FCC negotiations that included Verizon, Google, and other players. It comes as no shock that the cable and telephone company reps in the negotiations were disappointed at their demise. They spent the last two months kicking the can down the road, much like they did in year-long negotiations with Public Knowledge and Free Press in 2008-2009. They’d come in to those talks, reject our proffer and offer almost nothing concrete in return. So long as it appears like there is minimal progress, there is no need for either the FCC or Congress to act... The carriers themselves had different priorities – the telephone companies want to keep wireless as unregulated as possible, and were willing to be more flexible on the wireline side. NCTA would likely have been happy to throw wireless under the bus in exchange for less regulation (particularly of managed services) on the wireline side.

  • Eliot Van Buskirk rounds up lots of objections, focusing on the wired Broad Band side.

  • Ryan Singel focuses more on the Mobile side, noting all the options Google had to fight for users' freedom vs the TelCo Oligopoly: but they did none. You can’t make a Google-enhanced Android phone without Google’s permission. And that is precisely where Google had, and still has, the power to force openness. Instead, it has decided to play nicely with the wireless carriers in hopes of winning market share and mining advertising gold from miniature computers... It no longer made financial sense for Google to fight the carriers with its own open phone hardware, even though that meant abandoning its open wireless principles. In retrospect, they may have never actually been principles — just an aborted marketing strategy that proved unnecessary... It rolled over for the carriers on their phones, and on Monday, even gave up the fight for net neutrality rules on wireless devices. Its capitulation allows the carriers it works with to do the same thing AT&T and Apple have done to protect their businesses: ban cool apps for no real reason (Google Voice on the IPhone for one), cripple apps to protect business models (Sk Ype on the IPhone) and outright ban data-heavy apps from third parties (Sling Box for the IPhone), all the while promoting their own app (MLB’s iPhone app).

    • On the wired-Broad Band side, he notes: Allowing Verizon and ComCast to take on Hu Lu and NetFlix — the two largest streaming sources of major content — doesn’t hurt Google in the slightest. None of this is a good sign for Hulu, Netflix, or any other competing video service, given what the telecoms did to VoIP companies like Vonage, and DVR companies like Tivo, which promised to revolutionize phone calls and television respectively, only to see the major telecoms and cable companies mimic their inventions and price them out of the market with anti-competitive bundle deals.

    • Now, the outsiders need openness. HP, now in possession of Palm’s very cool Palm Pre webOS, could — if it required openness — make handsets that weren’t carrier-crippled and sell them cheaply, owning the low end of the smartphone market.

    • Michael Sippey thinks people are being unrealistically idealistic. I Commented.

Smells Evil. Google now smells like Just Another Fookin Big Co. Which of course it always was.

But it makes me wonder if I'll bother with an Android Tablet. Now that I think about it, the Google apps may be less crucial there, and a cleaner LinuxOS would have advantages (like being able to run Python and a Desktop Web Server).

And boy do we need an OpenNet manifesto.

Aug13 update: awesome Zed Shaw counter.

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