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Still, critics insist the plan, which exempts wireless broadband and new separate networks that do not run on the open Internet, could lead to content being pushed exclusively through the unregulated competing networks in the manner of cable TV.
GOOGLE, VERIZON COMMIT TO NET NEUTRALITY...OR DO THEY?
Companies Issue Joint Statement to Craft “Balanced Policy Framework”

Google and Verizon are not looking to bury net neutrality, but to preserve it. At least that’s what they’re claiming.

That summarizes the companies’ open letter yesterday after its recent joint filing to the FCC, where they discussed their common interest in an open Internet.

“Since that time, we have listened to all sides of the debate, engaged in good faith with policy makers in multiple venues, and challenged each other to craft a balanced policy framework.”

Still, critics insist the plan, which exempts wireless broadband and new separate networks that do not run on the open Internet, could lead to content being pushed exclusively through the unregulated competing networks in the manner of cable TV.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps also criticized the plan: "Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That's one of its many problems. 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."

The companies’ two stated goals are:

1. Users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium.

2. America must continue to encourage both investment and innovation to support the underlying broadband infrastructure; it is imperative for our global competitiveness.

Google and Verizon then laid out a series of seven suggested legislative moves to achieve those goals.

1. Both companies support the FCC’s current wireline broadband openness principles, which ensure that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and can use what applications, services, and devices they choose, principles brought into question by the recent Comcast court decision.

2. There should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition. In addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.

3. The consumer should be fully informed about their Internet experiences. Our proposal would create enforceable transparency rules, for both wireline and wireless services. Broadband providers would be required to give consumers clear, understandable information about the services they offer and their capabilities. Broadband providers would also provide to application and content providers information about network management practices and any other information they need to ensure that they can reach consumers.

4. Our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority to enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. The FCC could move swiftly to stop a practice that violates these safeguards, and it could impose a penalty of up to $2 million on those who break those rules.

5.  We want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation by allowing providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services, which might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.

6.  In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers.

7.  We strongly believe that it is in the national interest for all Americans to have broadband access to the Internet. We support reform of the Federal Universal Service Fund, so that it is focused on deploying broadband in areas where it is not now available.

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