Google and Verizon Offer Very Questionable Policy on Net Neutrality: How Can Wireless be Used to Neuter the Internet? Reply


My disappointment with Google is nearly palpable.  After generating considerable goodwill in the wake of its China services, the joint policy statement from Google and Verizon regarding net neutrality erases all that goodwill…and then some.  In an age when media are rapidly converging, traditional communications are moving online (i.e., my new phone system is entirely Internet based with no land line and seamlessly integrated with my mobile phone), and the traditional distinctions between fixed line and wireless blurring as businesses seek advantage from new technology and innovative business models, the joint policy statement between Google and Verizon is a tremendous disappointment.

You can find the entire blog post here, and below I am quoting the most relevant portion where Google and Verizon dream if differentiating fixed line from wireless technology.  This policy proposal is for USA only.

"Fifth, we want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. 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. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.

Sixth, 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. 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."

The world is clearly moving toward wireless technology.  The fact that my access point does not have a hard wire attached should not be the basis for saying that profit-seeking companies can suddenly prioritize other unnamed services.  On the one hand, location-based services operating entirely through wireless could be free of Internet connections and thus I can imagine a situation where this policy makes sense.  But then again, as technologies converge we have greater difficulty saying where the Internet begins and ends as businesses seek advantage and profit. Everything is converging.  I guess this is why Google agrees that the transparency rules for hard line Internet should not apply to wireless.  Android is stunningly popular, the world is moving toward wireless at rapid speed, and it appears to me that Google is agreeing to free itself of the net neutrality burden as the sources of future profits becomes increasingly clear. 

Like I mentioned above, my new phone system seamlessly integrates the Internet and my wireless telephone, so which policy will apply?  Google seems to be relying only increasingly dated distinctions in order to open the door for future profits.

I see little in this proposal to promote a more charitable interpretation of Google's and Verizon's motives.

Maybe critics have been correct.  Does Google simply apply the "Don't be evil" corporate value only when convenient?

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