Google-Verizon unveil net neutrality proposal

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Google-Verizon unveil net neutrality proposal

Railroading negotiations?

Google and US mobile phone carrier Verizon released a joint "net neutrality" proposal yesterday outlining rules to protect content providers from discrimination by carriers.

It came a week after the US Federal Communications Commission that regulates the activities of carriers walked out on net neutrality negotiations because debate between Verizon and Google reportedly railroaded its broader objectives in holding the negotiations, wrote The Wall Street Journal.

Commissioner Michael Copps criticised the proposal in a statement today.

"Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. [But] that's one of its many problems," Copps said.

"It is time to move a decision forward -- a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations."

Net neutrality was the concept that all communications on the internet should be treated equally. Providers complained that data-hungry services such as peer-to-peer and video make it difficult to provide lower-bandwidth services.

The proposal

Under Google's and Verizon's proposal, fixed-line carriers would be banned from blocking users running applications, transmitting content and connecting devices, so long as the uses were deemed "lawful".

It would also be illegal for a carrier to discriminate against any service that harmed competition or users, the proposal stated.

"Prioritisation of Internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination standard, but the presumption could be rebutted," it said.

The proposal, which appeared to be the duo's attempt to appease the commission received a hostile reception from the regulator.

Alan Davidson, Google director of public policy and Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president of public affairs, policy, and communications said in a statement that non-discrimination would include paid prioritisation.

"This new non-discrimination principle includes a presumption against prioritisation of Internet traffic - including paid prioritisation. So, in addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favour particular Internet traffic over other traffic," they wrote.

But there was an escape clause for providers allowed to discriminate, for example, where "differentiated services" used traffic prioritisation - so long as it complied with network transparency and consumer protection requirements.

Carriers would also have leeway to engage in reasonable network management activities to mitigate, for example, network latency.

Fine rogues $2.2 million

To ensure the players are monitored, Google and Verizon proposed the  commission be given power to fine carriers up to $US2 million ($2.2 million).

This was a response to a recent court decision involving Comcast that found the commission lacked authority to prevent prioritisation of certain traffic.

Wireless broadband providers would be immune to the same regulations as fixed-line carriers because of the "still-developing nature of wireless broadband".

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