FCC Halts Broadband Discussions Amid Google, Verizon Uproar

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-08-06

The Federal Communications Commission on Aug. 5 broke off broadband policy discussions with Google, Verizon, Skype and AT&T, citing too much disagreement.

"We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions," said FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus. "It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet-one that drives innovation, investment, free speech and consumer choice."

Lazarus also said all options remain on the table. The participants had held court on how carriers can manage traffic without impinging network access for some Websites.

Suspension of the talks came amid reports that Google and Verizon were hashing out a deal in which Google and other content owners would pay Verizon to have their content accelerated on the carrier's broadband network.

This plan reportedly applied to fixed wired networks and not wireless networks.

Google and Verizon both denied such a plan, which flies in the face of FCC network neutrality principles that call for an open Internet with no traffic prioritization or favoritism.

The mere notion that Google and Verizon were considering such a deal horrified consumer advocates who feared this sort of broadband brokering would put too much control in the hands of corporations that provide the data pipes and those that seek to shuttle content over it.

The issue prompted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to decry such a move by Google and Verizon.

Genachowski told reporters Aug. 5 it was "unacceptable" for Internet service providers to provide faster Internet to content providers who paid for it.

"Any outcome-any deal-that doesn't preserve the freedom and openness of the Internet for consumers and entrepreneurs will be unacceptable," said Genachowski.

The chairman is trying to push for the "third way," to reclassify broadband service providers, and is spearheading the National Broadband Plan to bring broadband to more consumers in rural areas.

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