Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Proposal would create a new level of the Internet where net neutrality would not apply

Friday we reported conflicting stories about a possible Google and Verizon "policy agreement" that would deliver a significant blow to advocated of net neutrality, the principle that all users have the same access. Now it appears both stories are partially correct. Google and Verizon announced this week a proposal that would keep existing public landlines free and open but would also create a second level of the Internet where telecommunication companies could charge higher rates for services that required more bandwidth to be carried over their lines, Michael Scherer of Time reports.

While Google said the shared policy would ensure the continued operation of a free and open Internet, net neutrality advocates were quick to lambast the proposal. "Unlike the future Googles, the present Google can afford prioritization service that will block out competitors," Andrew Schwartzman, the policy director of the Media Access Project. "It locks in the incumbent's advantage." In addition to the new prioritized wired network, the Google-Verizon proposal also included no limits on companies imposing tiered service on wireless networks.

"We welcome all efforts to promote openness on the wireline Internet," The Open Internet Coalition said in a statement, "but believe that any satisfactory agreement must also include protection for wireless Internet users to access websites and applications of their choice." In a conference call with reporters, Google president Eric Schmidt "minimized the import of the prioritization that would be allowed under the proposal, saying Google would continue to distribute all of its content over the existing Internet, not any premium subscription service," Scherer writes. The proposal will now circulate on Capitol Hill where no Congressional action is expected until 2011 at the earliest. (Read more) also reports on net neutrality. Reporter Marian Wang points out that Google and Verizon have no business arrangement or agreement about this proposal.  The CEO for Google, Eric Schmidt, has complained that the media has called this a deal, when according to Schmidt, it's a policy that both companies have agreed to follow. (Read more)

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