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.

Filed Under: net neutrality
Companies: google, verizon

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  1. icon
    Scott Martin (profile), 16 Aug 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.

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