Google and Verizon Unveil Net Neutrality Proposal

Google and Verizon put forth a joint policy proposal on Monday that would give the FCC power to regulate broadband providers to ensure net neutrality for consumers.

The proposal effectively cemented the two firms in their commitment for non-discriminatory access to wireline broadband, meaning that no one company will be granted priority access over another.

The Google-Verizon plan provides a legislative framework suggestion, laying out seven parts that give the FCC power to impose a $2 million fine on bad actors and to enforce transparency provisions on both wireline and broadband.

The proposal, which has already been compared to the Bill of Rights for the Internet, calls for recognition that broadband and wireless service are different and should be defined as such. It also aims to reinstitute the Federal Universal Service Fund in support of a robust broadband network.

The proposal comes on the heels of conflicting reports, some of which said the companies had been meeting to propose tiered Internet rates, the exact opposite of what the proposal represents.

Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg expressed the reason for the quick release of the Verizon-Google plan.

“There’s been so much discussion of this issue, that we feel this debate has been hijacked by issues that [are] not reflective of what the company’s doing,” he said in the conference. “We support the FCC, we built a fiber network, we built a wireless network, we purchased spectrum and agreed to open access.”

The proposal may be viewed as a respite for the embattled F.C.C., which has been stuck in a quagmire of discussions following litigation in a Comcast lawsuit that stripped them of their power to regulate the Internet under a telecommunications provision.

The F.C.C.’s trouble deepened when it tried to put wireless and wireline services under the same umbrella of regulation. Many of the players in that industry cried foul.

The Google-Verizon plan stipulates that the plan “would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement.”

This stipulation is objectionable to some, who see the proposal as a façade disguising the companies’ desires to further their business motives with giant loopholes.

According to Joel Kelsey, political advisor for Free Press who communicated with PC World, “This is much worse than a business arrangement between two companies. It’s a signed-sealed-and-delivered policy framework with giant loopholes that blesses the carving up of the Internet for a few deep-pocketed Internet companies and carriers.”