Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), amid an outcry over a policy proposal issued with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), tried to soothe critics today in a blog post challenging the supposed myths associated with the agreement.

"We don't expect everyone to agree with every aspect of our proposal, but there has [sic] been a number of inaccuracies about it," noted Google lawyer Richard Whitt in the post.

The move comes roughly four days after Google and Verizon's press conference to explain their joint public-policy statement "for an Open Internet." There, they refuted earlier reports that they had negotiated a deal to prioritize certain types of Internet traffic or create specialized, paid-for broadband expressways. (See Cable Tees Off on FCC's 'Third Way' Proposal.)

Among the points of the proposal, which was presented as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers new broadband policies, is a call to ensure that wireline broadband service providers are prevented from discriminating against or prioritizing lawful Internet content, apps, or services in a way that would end up harming users or competition. That FCC enforcement protection would extend to paid prioritization of public Internet traffic but would allow some wiggle room for some operator-managed broadband services. The companies are also pushing for transparency rules that apply to both wireline and wireless service providers, but they advocate that some of those discrimination principles not be applied to wireless. (See Verizon & Google Define an 'Open Internet', FCC Mutes Closed-Door Net Neutrality Talks, and Eric & Ivan Tackle the Media .)

Google's been accused of selling out, but Whitt's blog post says the company merely "decided to partner with a major broadband provider on the best policy solution we could device together. We're not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that a proposal that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers is preferable to no protection at all."

Another myth, according to Whitt: that the proposal would eliminate network neutrality over wireless. He acknowledged that Google had previously advocated for "certain openness safeguards" for both wireline and wireless, but argued that the joint proposal would ensure that the wireless market "remain free from regulation for now, while Congress keeps a watchful eye."

Whitt reasoned that wireless deserves special treatment because it's more competitive than wireline and because wireless operators "need to manage their networks more actively," because capacity is shared among many users.

He reiterated that the joint proposal is "not a business deal." Although Google and Verizon are big wireless business partners, "ultimately this proposal has nothing to do with Android."

He also bristled at the suggestion that the Verizon and Google are privately legislating the future of the Internet via the proposal, claiming it's only a "framework" offered up for Congress's consideration. He's hopeful that other stakeholders will weigh in.

Regardless, the proposal has struck a serious nerve among network neutrality advocates. Free Press and other groups that are critical of the proposal reportedly plan to stage a rally Friday at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters on Friday.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:26:48 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

Google makes revenue on the vast majority of Internet searches, videos watched, and emails sent by broadband consumers, so it stands to reason that they'd eventually start talking with a large and influential provider to find some common ground.

If they remain ignorant of what the Verizons of the world are capable of and sensitive to, they'd be putting a large part of their business at risk.

A policy statement isn't a law and, really, more companies should be meeting with more broadband providers and making more statements on what they value and want to charge for as this thing evolves.

The more companies like Google and Verizon seek some kind of understanding, the better chance we have of keeping the FCC from stepping in and screwing things up.

It's also good marketing, too. By listening to Google, Verizon seems progressive. AT&T still has the stench of Ed Whitacre's Grumpy Old Man bit all over it.


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:26:47 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

But still amazes how net neutrality groups all out of joint (well, they're good at that)  at any mere suggestion that would look to prioritize any type of app or service that uses the Internet, even when it's something that's supposedly being "managed."  Granted, the Comcast P2P fiasco got their dander up originally, so it only takes a slight nudge to get them from 0-60 in 2 seconds. JB

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:26:43 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs


I think you have simplified the problem...you are not buying a pipe.  As far as I can tell, you are buying a clock rate at the point you demarc to the carrier (or MSO).  That is about it.  As far as I can tell, they can give you 1 bps to the Internet and fulfilled the terms of the deal.

I think we probably (and I have stated this in other threads) need to provide better definition of the service we are buying and in some ways base it around services.  You might understand the bandwidth but many will not...but they might understand Voice, Video, Gaming, Surfing, etc.



OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:26:43 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

If I am the customer and I pay an ISP for BW shouldn't I be the one to decide how to allocate the BW I bought???

Now I have always argued for a possible multitiered approach which would be necessary as cost caught up with price for the shared BW that became consumed.

So why can't I pay for a pipe and then allocate the tiered BW that I pay for?



rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:26:39 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

re: "So why can't I pay for a pipe and then allocate the tiered BW that I pay for?"

I think the fundamental reason we have coupling of content with bit distribution is due to the publc good charactersitics of "knowledge and information" (or "media") , i.e. that these class of goods are non rivalrous and somewhat non excludable.   Since a market doesn't work for public goods folks who develop intellectual properties for trade tend to use distribution to create artificial walls of exclusion in order to get price signaling.  And distributors, in a position of monopoly, then turn around and game the system to maximize their profits (vs. improve distribution.)

If we as a society merely paid the producers of content for their works and had the integrity to honor their licensing requests per those payments, which would likely include some aspects of exclusion, the system wouldn't be so distorted and much less dysfunctional.  Eli Noam is interesting.

wanlord 12/5/2012 | 4:26:20 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

It would be interesting to hear Vint Cerf's view on this...

xp 12/5/2012 | 4:26:20 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

Google has a lot more money to pay for QoS than their future potential startup rivals. So it makes business sense for Google to support buying/selling QoS over the net.  I think they didn't do so in the past only because they have a strong moral sense.

But lately Google appears to be softening on their moral stance. First they changed their stance on Google.cn, then they changed their stance on Net Neutrality.  Maybe Apple's rise caused some internal debate on "moral sense vs. business sense"?

If that's the case, I think the "business" people inside Google mis-calculated this time, because the current QoS model is simply not viable. That is, QoS is simply not buyable or sellable from a commercial perspective. So many carriers have tried to sell QoS over the years, but none has succeeded.

You may ask “why??”. The answer is: there is economic law (natural law, not legislation) in every industry. Such law will dictate the behaviors of the players (carriers, vendors, ICPs) in the industry, knowing it or not. If you look back into telecom history long enough to understand the law, you will have better chance than most people to predict the future, including outcome of some hotly-debated issue like Net Neutrality.

Take a look at this book: “Technical, commercial, and regulatory challenges of QoS” by XiPeng Xiao, and get will get an idea of the law. You can find the TOC at books.google.com. The book also has in-depth coverage on Net Neutrality.


rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:26:18 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

On the apps side, Google losing to Facebook, Craigslist, etc. has demonstrated they have been a one hit band.  Goog can index the web and that's about all.  They're submission to VZ on claiming wireless as not needing any "common carriage regulation" pretty much is an admission that they are losing, particularly in mobility.  It's really silly to say that because a network hop, be it a first, a middle, or a last used over the air RF instead of a physical cable means it should be treated by a different set of *interconnection/peering* rules, and these rules need no regulations or public interest obligations.  The irony of course is that VZ leveraged its wired monopoly position (T1/T3 backhaul) to establish their dominant mobility (wireless) position.  We should see this for what it is, i.e. GOOG has failed and instead of admiting failure to federal policy makers (not to mention Wall St.) they are jumping on with VZ in hopes to to leverage VZ's regulatory capture.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:26:17 PM
re: Google: We're Not Net Neutrality Sell-Outs

I should also note that the biz-model of I'll give you (or subsidize) a mobile computer that you can use only for access to your data (as defined by the GOOG/VZ web app) and then demand that the advertisers pay VZ for the device and GOOG for the device OS seems improbable.  If it works, LR can start handing out free laptops running browsers that only can connect to http:://www.lightreading.com and we can call that progress ;-)

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