Democrats Dash Google, Verizon Network Neutrality Plan

Four U.S. Democrats in Congress bashed the network neutrality plan put forth by Google and Verizon, which called for separate rules for wireline and wireless Internet services.

Four members of U.S. Congress banded together to attack the network neutrality plan put forth by Google and Verizon, a proposal so contentious that parties from all over the Web have weighed in to denounce it.

Democratic Reps. Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, Mike Doyle and Jay Inslee wrote in a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski that Google and Verizon's "industry centered" net neutrality policy underscores the need for the FCC to resolve its meetings regarding the open Internet.

"Rather than expansion upon a proposal by two large communication companies with a vested financial interest in the outcome, formal FCC action is needed," the reps wrote Aug. 16.

Google and Verizon Aug. 9 unveiled a plan that would prohibit wireline operators from discriminating against any applications, content and other traffic on the open Internet.

While this is in keeping with network neutrality principles that call for fair competition for Web content over broadband pipes, the companies angered some factions because they did not extend these principles to wireless networks.

Google, Verizon and even AT&T, which was not part of the plan, all agreed that wireless networks should not be subject to the rules that govern wireline broadband because of the evolving competition in the market.

Like most parties, the representatives from Congress disagreed with this position.

In their letter, they argued that "exclusion of wireless services from open Internet requirements could widen the digital divide by establishing a substandard, less open experience for underserved regions that may more often need to access or choose to access the Internet on a mobile device."

The Congress representatives, who also decried paid prioritization from "additional online services" Verizon and others could offer, called for the FCC to facilitate its National Broadband Plan to bring high-speed Internet to millions of Americans in rural areas. The FCC argues the plan will spur the creation of jobs.

Research from both the FCC and Pew Research shows the United States is lagging in broadband adoption, particularly compared with other countries where regulations are not so strict.

The representatives also voice their support for Genachowski's "third way" proposal to classify broadband providers under Title II carrier rules, giving the FCC "forbearance authority" over Verizon, AT&T and others.

Conversely, Google and Verizon suggested in their plan that any FCC regulation be on a case-by-case basis.