reports last week speculated the companies were working on. (Note: broadband specialists and other press are very skeptical, see below.)Google and Verizon held a press call today announcing a joint legislative framework proposal: internet network transparency and FCC enforcement with up to $2 million fines for network providers that engage in anti-competitive measures that hurt consumers. This is the exact opposite of what
Under the proposal, the General Accounting Office would report yearly to congress about how well it all is working. Verizon said the company was concerned that too many rules up front could infringe on its ability to optimize the network for performance, but that some rules are clearly needed and transparency is important. "There will be no prioritization of traffic from Google over the internet, period," Verizon's CEO Ivan Seidenberg said today. "No paid prioritization of traffic over the public internet."
In theory private networks could be built to sell special services, but Google's Schmidt said that Google will not do that. "We like the public internet," he said, "and we intend to use it."
On getting a return on investment in broadband: Verizon's Seidenberg said that Google has far more ideas about how to monetize and grow the public internet than Verizon had in its original understanding [of the internet, apparently].
Both companies are talking the innovation-talk, saying that fat, unfettered pipes will lead to more innovation that will make the pie bigger for everyone involved.
Press cynicism runs deep, though, and questions about loopholes and dark hidden intentions are still being asked. Probably rightly so, but executives on the call sound really annoyed that people are still looking for "conspiracy theories" while they believe they are offering good faith statements for the good of the internet.
There has been no mention yet of an internet browsing brain implant to be offered by either company. Wireless networks aren't included in the prohibitions, just wireline networks, though transparency would be required for all of the above. See Cecilia Kang's coverage at The Washington Post to read a perspective that says this is bad news. See also broadband expert Karl Bode's commentary on Twitter. Susan Crawford's analysis looks strong: that these two companies filled a vacuum that the FCC needs to step into and show leadership in. That sounds good, if you trust the FCC to do the right thing.
More analysis coming, the document is embedded below.