Posted on : 10-09-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Government
Tags: Google, Net Nuetrality, Verizon
Last week Federal Communications Commission Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus announced that broadband regulation talks between Verizon, AT&T, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition have been terminated. Although negotiators found a number of points of agreement they ultimately failed to reach a final consensus. Consequently, broadband delivery policy and the way consumers will access the Internet in the future remains an enigma.
According to Sam Gustin, author of Google, Verizon and the FCC: Inside the War Over the Internet’s Future, at stake is, “No less than the future of the Internet, with wide-ranging ramifications for the delivery of broadband content and services to the home — not to mention hospitals, banks and mobile devices.”
Currently, the Internet operates under the principle of net neutrality. All Internet users have equal access to information on the Internet. Without net neutrality, the Internet would function more like cable television’s tiered system which imposes higher costs for premium levels of service. For example Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, could charge a fee to companies like YouTube, owned by Google, to ensure that its content received priority. This would eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users. In addition, net neutrality advocates argue start-ups, like Google and Twitter once were, could never compete, thereby stifling Internet innovation.
Even President Obama declared his strong support for net neutrality, during a speech in November 2007 at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. As a presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama pledged, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality … [O]nce providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.”
Although, Verizon and Google are adversaries when it comes to net neutrality, they got together after a federal judge ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce net neutrality. While they were able to come to some preliminary compromises and news of a Google-Verizon proposal emerged last month, talks eventually broke down. That proposal ensured net neutrality on wired networks, but did not require net neutrality on wireless networks. Their proposal also created a category called “managed services,” under which companies could pay for a nonpublic, superfast network to deliver prioritized content. There were many points of contention in the Google-Verizon proposal; however, the third component is the most troubling and is likely the reason for the ultimate breakdown.