By Glenn Chapman (AFP) – Aug 9, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO — Google and US telecom titan Verizon on Monday proposed a legal framework to safeguard "net neutrality" but said the rules should not apply to wireless broadband Internet connections.
"We both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly," the companies said in a joint statement.
"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."
Google and Verizon laid out a detailed plan for US legislators to create laws aimed at preventing Internet service providers from violating "net neutrality" by giving some data priority over other digital information.
"The original architects of the Internet got the big things right," the companies said.
"By making the network open, they enabled the greatest exchange of ideas in history. By making the Internet scalable, they enabled explosive innovation in the infrastructure."
Recommending that wireless Internet connections be exempt from net neutrality rules played into fears that Google is changing allegiance in the battle to stop Internet service providers (ISPs) from giving preferential treatment to those that pay.
"Mobile is the future, and mobile is wireless," California high school student Mitchell Kernot reasoned. "So, what they are saying is the future isn't net neutral."
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials reviewed the Google-Verizon proposal and declined to comment on it.
The proposed framework would ban "undue discrimination against any lawful Internet content" and give the FCC the power to impose "a forfeiture" of as much as two million dollars for each violation.
Prioritizing online traffic so that some data travels faster than other data would be considered a violation.
The FCC would have exclusive authority to oversee broadband Internet access service but would not have power over online applications, content or services.
In April, a US appeals court dealt a major setback to the FCC's efforts to force ISPs to treat all Web traffic equally.
The court ruled in favor of broadband provider Comcast Corp. in a case seen as a test of the FCC's authority to enforce net neutrality.
The court decided that the FCC had not been granted the legal authority by Congress to regulate the network management practices of ISPs.
"(Google and Verizon) have long been proponents of the FCC?s current wireline broadband openness principles," the companies said.
"The enforceability of those principles was called into serious question by the recent Comcast court decision. Our proposal would now make those principles fully enforceable at the FCC."
The proposal also calls for letting broadband service providers freely offer their own online services such as Verizon FIOS TV, which is currently available.
"This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services," the companies said.
"It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options."
The FCC would monitor services by ISPs to make certain they were implemented fairly, according to the proposal.
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