Google (GOOG) and Verizon (VZ) turned heads by issuing a joint statement in (moderate) support of a net neutrality ahead of today’s FCC vote on the issue.
The two companies have been publicly at odds with each other on whether further regulation to assure neutrality is necessary. Verizon is opposed, Google in favour.
Today’s statement bridged the gap by affirming that the FCC should affirm that its existing neutrality principles should be enforceable.
The FCC will vote on new rules later today.
Full statement below:
Verizon and Google might seem unlikely bedfellows in the current debate
around network neutrality, or an open Internet. And while it’s true we
do disagree quite strongly about certain aspects of government policy in
this area–such as whether mobile networks should even be part of the
discussion–there are many issues on which we agree. For starters we
both think it’s essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and
open platform–where people can access any content (so long as it’s
legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice.
There are two key factors driving innovation on the web today. First is
the programming language of the Internet, which was designed over 40
years ago by engineers who wanted the freedom to communicate from any
computer, anywhere in the world. It enables Macs to talk to PCs,
Blackberry Storms to iPhones, the newest computers to the oldest
hardware on the planet across any kind of network–cable, DSL, fibre,
mobile, WiFi or even dial up.
Second, private investment is dramatically increasing broadband capacity
and the intelligence of networks, creating the infrastructure to support
ever more sophisticated applications.
As a result, however or wherever you access the Internet the people you
want to connect with can receive your message. There is no central
authority that can step in and prevent you from talking to someone else,
or that imposes rules prescribing what services should be available.
Transformative is an over-used word, especially in the tech sector. But
the Internet has genuinely changed the world. Consumers of all stripes
can decide which services they want to use and the companies they trust
to provide them. In addition, if you’re an entrepreneur with a big idea,
you can launch your service online and instantly connect to an audience
of billions. You don’t need advance permission to use the network. At
the same time, network providers are free to develop new applications,
either on their own or in collaboration with others.
This kind of “innovation without permission” has changed the way we do
business forever, fueling unprecedented collaboration, creativity and
opportunity. And because America has been at the forefront of most of
these changes, we have disproportionately benefited in terms of economic
growth and job creation.
So, in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission’s national
plan to bring broadband to all Americans, we understand its decision to
start a debate about how best to protect and promote the openness of the
Internet. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has promised a thoughtful,
transparent decision-making process, and we look forward to taking part
in the analysis and discussion that is to follow. We believe this kind
of process can work, because as the two of us have debated these issues
we have found a number of basic concepts to agree on.
First, it’s obvious that users should continue to have the final say
about their web experience, from the networks and software they use, to
the hardware they plug in to the Internet and the services they access
online. The Internet revolution has been people powered from the very
beginning, and should remain so. The minute that anyone, whether from
government or the private sector, starts to control how people use the
Internet, it is the beginning of the end of the Net as we know it.
Second, advanced and open networks are essential to the future
development of the Web. Policies that continue to provide incentives for
investment and innovation are a vital part of the debate we are now
Third, the FCC’s existing wireline broadband principles make clear that
users are in charge of all aspects of their Internet experience–from
access to apps and content. So we think it makes sense for the
Commission to establish that these existing principles are enforceable,
and implement them on a case-by-case basis.
Fourth, we’re in wild agreement that in this rapidly changing Internet
ecosystem, flexibility in government policy is key. Policymakers
sometimes fall prey to the temptation to write overly detailed rules,
attempting to predict every possible scenario and address every possible
concern. This can have unintended consequences.
Fifth, broadband network providers should have the flexibility to manage
their networks to deal with issues like traffic congestion, spam,
“malware” and denial of service attacks, as well as other threats that
may emerge in the future–so long as they do it reasonably, consistent
with their customers’ preferences, and don’t unreasonably discriminate
in ways that either harm users or are anti-competitive. They should also
be free to offer managed network services, such as IP television.
Finally, transparency is a must. Chairman Genachowski has proposed
adding this principle to the FCC’s guidelines, and we both support this
step. All providers of broadband access, services and applications
should provide their customers with clear information about their
Doubtless, there will be disagreements along the way. While Verizon
supports openness across its networks, it believes that there is no
evidence of a problem today — especially for wireless — and no basis
for new rules and that regulation in the US could have a detrimental
effect globally. While Google supports light touch regulation, it
believes that safeguards are needed to combat the incentives for
carriers to pick winners and losers online.
Both of our businesses rely on each other. So we believe it’s
appropriate to discuss how we ensure that consumers can get the
information, products, and services they want online, encourage
investment in advanced networks and ensure the openness of the web
around the world. We’re ready to engage in this important policy
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