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Regulation

Google Grouses on Net Neutrality

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original headline of this story was changed because it didn't reflect the full context of the remark made by Google's representative. The story itself, however, has not been changed.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has more than one reason for coming out against phone company QOS fees, according to sources at the VON show here. (See LR Poll: Net 'Squatters' Should Pay.)

One source close to Google says the company dislikes the thought that phone companies may carry only video from content providers that use a proprietary network protocol prescribed by each individual carrier. (See Are Operators Ready for QOS Fees?)

While the protocols would allow carriers to provide a better consumer experience, it would also add significant cost to the content producers, which would have to strike different QOS deals and embrace different protocols for each major network operator. (See Net Neutrality Debate Wydens.)

But even with that looming, Google general counsel Andrew Mclaughlin says many in Washington would rather not get the FCC involved in the Internet at all. “The FCC sucks,” Mclaughlin says. “Why would you want the FCC to get involved in anything? Its track record is pretty bad when it comes to processes and outcomes.”

After his statements, Mclaughlin made it clear he was expressing the views of others in Washington who are not convinced there is a need for regulating the Internet.

Meanwhile, Verizon's director of technology policy, David Young, says this proprietary protocol fear hasn't come to fruition yet; he knows of no carrier that has charged a QOS fee from a content provider or forced it to use the operator’s proprietary network protocols. (See Google Backlash Builds.)

Both Young and Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC) VP of regulatory affairs Paul Kouroupas say, however, that content providers have in the past made “business arrangements” with network operators to reserve bandwidth for their applications.

Kouroupas says content providers can do other things to help the delivery of their products, like locating their servers inside the operator's network, or using P2P content delivery techniques.

But the network neutrality proponents took a kick to the teeth in various panels here as Internet companies have failed to move legislation in the Capitol.

“Why are the interests of truth, love, and the American way getting our butts kicked in Washington?" Google's Mclaughlin asked.

Many in Washington believe that access networks are changing rapidly, and might soon be dominated by wireless Internet connections, which would again change how QOS is implemented. “There is a belief in Washington that wireless is going to blow this thing wide open anyway, so why legislate now,” Mclaughlin says.

He also believes that lawmakers have come to accept the idea that broadband networks are the property of the operators, and rules shouldn’t be imposed on them. “There is a belief that property rights are always good,” he says.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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