Google Denies Selling Out Network Neutrality with Verizon

Despite scorn from Amazon, Facebook, and the Media and Democracy Coalition, Google denied dashing network neutrality principles and selling out in its broadband policy proposal with Verizon.

Google denied flouting network neutrality principles and selling out in its broadband policy proposal with telecommunications giant Verizon.

The search engine sought to defend itself from attackers from all corners of the Web who claimed Google was not sticking to strict principles for an open Internet, which is submitted for the Federal Communications Commission to consider.

Google and Verizon August 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 and Verizon said they did not wish to stifle innovation in an evolving market. However, member groups of the Media and Democracy Coalition expressed concern about those issues.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the MDC complained that the principles don't cover wireless networks.

"This could further widen the digital divide, particularly for those that rely primarily or exclusively on wireless Internet access, as do many individuals in rural areas, and many low-income consumers," the MDC wrote. "It may also create a barrier to entry by independent creators, entrepreneurs and startups."

What some call a sell-out, Google called a compromise in a blog post August 12.

"It's true that Google previously has advocated for certain openness safeguards to be applied in a similar fashion to what would be applied to wireline services," wrote Richard Whitt, Google's telecom counsel in Washington.

"However, in the spirit of compromise, we have agreed to a proposal that allows this market to remain free from regulation for now, while Congress keeps a watchful eye."

Also bothering the MDC and others is the idea that Verizon and carriers could create a faster traffic lane for additional online services that would not be part of the public Internet.

To many Web watchers, this two-tiered service delivery model segregates the public Internet. The widely-held belief is that the Internet is public and any attempts to separate services and prioritize them with faster traffic flies in the face of the open Web.

The MDC said Verizon's definition of "additional online services" is so broad, "it could easily lead to another form of paid prioritization of Internet content and other types of unreasonable discrimination, which is inconsistent with the concept of an open Internet."