Google, Verizon Compromise On Net Neutrality

from the gee...-who-woulda-thunk-it dept

It was just a few hours ago that we pointed to Dave Burstein's report that a net neutrality "deal" was being worked out in the backrooms -- with one part of it being a "separate peace" arranged between Verizon and Google. Well... it didn't take long, but now pretty much everyone is reporting that Google and Verizon have worked out a "compromise" deal that basically gets Verizon to promise not to discriminate access over its wired lines (something few thought it was really going to do anyway), but does not include such promises for wireless networks -- which is what Verizon really cares about looking forward anyway. Not surprisingly, the various public interest groups are not happy about this turn of events (something else accurately predicted by Burstein).

Of course, it really shouldn't be a surprise that this happened -- or that the deal was between Verizon and Google (AT&T, supposedly, has been distancing itself from it). You may recall that, back in March, the CEOs of both companies co-authored a WSJ op-ed about keeping the government out of broadband. The two companies have also filed joint comments to the FCC on net neutrality. Oh, and, perhaps most importantly (from Google's standpoint), the two are working together on an Android tablet.

Of course, the real question is whether or not this agreement is good for just those two companies, or good for consumers. In many of these negotiations, Google had been playing a proxy role in fighting for consumers -- largely because in many of those fights, what was good for the consumer was, actually, good for Google. However, we've been warning for years, that as Google's interests diverge, people shouldn't rely on Google to always fight the principled fight, because its business models won't always align with consumers' principles. There's nothing wrong, of course, with supporting a company that is fighting for consumer rights when it helps to have them on your side, but people should always remember that eventually there will be a conflict between what's best for the consumer, and what's best for the business. This isn't a surprise, or anything damning Google directly -- but more a reminder for those who kept expecting Google to always fight for the consumer.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Radjin, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:10am

    Do No Evil

    So much for the Goggle fan boys who though Google was on their side. Like any business they are on whatever side makes them money.

    Just like other back room deals made in Washington we the consumer and small businesses are going to get the shaft again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:16am

    Re: Do No Evil

    Is it any surprise that business are in business to make money? This is just common sense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    I wouldn't worry about the people, they know exactly who is fighting what and what it is good for them for the most part, is amazing how the group as a whole behave in is best interests.

    Microsoft once was good for the public and people rewarded Microsoft for it, they are no more and the public pay them in kind. Now it is Google and when they turn evil which is a matter of when and not if, people will distance themselves from it too.

    The Net Neutrality fight is not about networks is about the people and what they can do to influence their own destiny, it may not turn out exactly as people imagine and rarely do, but it does one thing, it focus attention on the issues, it awake people, with that said the only way to change things is with legislation in the end either excluding some and planting some others is like gardening, you take out the weed and plant some other stuff and right now people suck at it, but give it time and more and more institutions will be created to look after the people's interest like the EFF, ACLU and others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    mkay?, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:23am

    Re: Do No Evil

    I'm a "Goggle" fan boy and I "though" Google was never on my side.

    No company is ever, truly on the consumer-side as a business philosophy. What makes Google so awesome is how they give me a worlds worth of information in seconds and is FREE.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Will Anything Make You Happy?

    So what I don't get, Mike, is where you actually stand on Net Neutrality. You regularly make a point about how the Government shouldn't be mucking around in it with regulation, but this is exactly the sort of thing that will happen without regulation and you don't seem to like that, either. Are you just of the opinion that it'd be better if everyone agreed to play nice, without anything to enforce it, or is there some Third Way you think could actually be effective?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    abc gum, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Re: Will Anything Make You Happy?

    You're new here aren't you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    chris (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Re: Will Anything Make You Happy?

    or is there some Third Way you think could actually be effective?

    you mean like competition?

    i happen to be a fairly strong proponent for net neutrality, but the whole thing would be a non-starter if there was increased competition in the market.

    government regulation is a necessary evil. it is necessary due to the market failures that make the telco's shenanigans possible in the first place. it is evil because the government can't do anything right and pretty much always abdicates to lobbyists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Pixelation, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Still waiting...

    for the whole story here. This is where an investigative reporter could make a name for himself by finding out what is being said (or agreed to)in these meetings. What we have so far is a bunch of speculation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    mkam (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re: Will Anything Make You Happy?

    They have already said it, but Mike is pro-competition as are most people in the USA which have at most 2 choices for high speed internet. So you can get raped by the cable company or Verizon or AT&T depending on where you are. That is if you are lucky. I am actually at the first place ever in my life where this exists. Up until now is has been cable, dialup, or satellite. How much do you think that Comcast or Cox care about the customer when they are the only game in town and you have no choice. So they have abysmal customer service, no incentive to provide better service, and plenty of incentive to keep jacking up rates even while the rest of the country is going through a recession.

    So short answer is: if there is competition Net Neutrality is not an issue. If you have one choice for internet then Net Neutrality is a big deal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Who really thinks "net neutrality" is a good idea for the wireless networks anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re: Will Anything Make You Happy?

    And that's kind of my point. There ISN'T competition and, presumably, the market isn't friendly to start-up providers -- if it were, I imagine that we'd have more start up trying to fill the obvious holes in provider coverage. So we're looking at a situation where there's no competition and little chance for competition in the future. Given that, is it a foregone conclusion that government regulation is our only savior?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Michael, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Will Anything Make You Happy?

    Sure, but why treat the symptom rather than the disease?

    Instead of mandating net neutrality, invest resources into providing viable competition. The telco companies have their monopolies because the government granted them. The original thinking was that the investment required to create the networks for cable were so expensive that the government should subsidize the building of them by a single company in each area and then regulate them to ensure customers were not completely ignored. The telcos came up with this plan because they knew that they could then continue to lobby for relaxed regulations while keeping their monopoly. A brilliant plan that has worked wonderfully to produce slow connection speeds, poor customer service, and extremely high prices - this all translates into billions in profit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:26am

    FWIW, Google denies NYTimes report on Twitter -

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Jay (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Google deny turned into story

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:03am


    FWIW, Google denies NYTimes report on Twitter -

    Watch the wording choice. Note that they're not denying the *other* reports out there. The NY Times report is wrong that Google is agreeing to paying Verizon to prioritize its traffic. However, they *are* working on the deal described here and elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Clueby4, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    Civil Disobedience

    If they ignore net neutrality then we should ignore right of way.

    So everyone start jamming, without any pesky guilt. Tho you'd probably want to avoid detection. ;p

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Scott Martin (profile), Aug 16th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Google is not evil

    I work for the government, and I know we loose money buying things because we have procedures to go through for accounting later. When you get the government involved, costs go up. That being said, Michael is right about the symptom vs. the disease. ISP's would prefer to upgrade the infrastructure of large cities than getting internet out to rural areas because the return investment is greater. This leads to massive differentials in computer knowledge between urban vs. rural Americans, keeping the poor people down. There are government subsidies to get broadband out to these areas, but it's a slow process (because it's government). What confuses me is the term "Net Neutrality." I though that meant "Anonymous on the internet" - Like what I post on the internet via an email-based login can't be traced back to me. Now I am learning it means something else, not quite so bad. I thought Obama's definition of "Net Neutrality" wanted to make us all accountable to eliminate internet fraud. Now it's being used in regards to this Google-Verizon thing in a completely different context. I do packet shaping on my network to prioritize VoIP. What the problem with an ISP doing it? By the way, what's wrong with Google (designer of Android OS) and Verizon (maker of cell phones) pairing up to make a cell phone. That's logical... It's like Microsoft and Amazon teaming up to make an audiobook player.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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