Sunday, August 8, 2010

Verizon and Google Announce Joint Net Neutrality Proposal

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg announced a joint proposal on how Internet traffic should be managed and regulated. Verizon agreed to support a wide range of Net Neutrality principles for wireline networks, and Google conceded that these principles need not apply to wireless networks.

Key points of agreement include:

1. The FCC's current wireline broadband openness principles should be maintained, ensuring that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and that they can use whatever applications, services, and devices they choose.

2. Wireline broadband providers should not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition. In addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.

3. The consumer should be fully informed about their Internet experiences and there should be enforceable transparency rules for both wireline and wireless services.

4. The FCC should be provided with a new enforcement mechanism. Specifically, the FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. Penalties of up to $2 million could be imposed.

5. The broadband infrastructure should be a platform for innovation and broadband providers should be allowed to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. There should be safeguards that ensure that new online services be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules.

6. Most of these principles WOULD NOT apply to wireless broadband, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers.

7. The federal Universal Service Fund should be reformed and re-focused on deploying broadband in areas where it is not now available.