Optical/IP Networks

Verizon & Google Define an 'Open Internet'

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) called a surprise press conference Monday to say that the companies are putting forward a joint public policy statement "for an Open Internet." (See Eric & Ivan Tackle the Media .)

In a somewhat fractious press call this afternoon, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg talked up seven joint proposals aimed at advancing net neutrality requirements for broadband and asking for increased "transparency" for wireless subscribers.

The pair refuted earlier press reports that Google and Verizon had been talking behind closed doors about a deal to prioritize certain Internet traffic. (See FCC Mutes Closed-Door Net Neutrality Talks.)

"You've read a lot in the press since last Thursday, almost all of it being completely wrong," Schmidt said on the call. "There is no business arrangement, and reports that there were are false, misleading, and incorrect."

Instead, Schmidt says that the two companies have been going over "a lot of common ground" to carve out a public policy proposal related to net neutrality and more. The pair published the proposals in a joint blog.

The proposals include:

  • Both companies want to ensure that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ’s current wireline broadband openness principles are "fully enforceable at the FCC." The principles try to ensure that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and can use what applications, services, and devices they choose, but Google and Verizon say they were "called into serious question by the recent Comcast court decision."

  • The pair are calling on the FCC to ensure that "wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition." This would include paid prioritization of public Internet traffic.

  • The companies want new transparency rules for both wireline and wireless providers. "Broadband providers would be required to give consumers clear, understandable information about the services they offer and their capabilities."

  • The companies want the FCC to have more powers to move in quickly -- on a case-by-case basis -- and fine "bad actors" up to $2 million for breaking the rules.

  • The proposal allows for operators to develop broadband services, like FiOS, that are separate from the public Internet. "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."

  • Wireless is also singled out as a special case in the document. "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."

    "Wireless is in a slightly different place from the traditional wireline world," Schmidt said on the call.

  • Lastly, the corporate pair reiterated that "it is in the national interest for all Americans to have broadband access to the Internet."

    "We believe this policy framework properly empowers consumers and gives the FCC a role carefully tailored for the new world of broadband," the companies note, "while also allowing broadband providers the flexibility to manage their networks and provide new types of online services."

  • — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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