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Google-Verizon Announcement Garners Wide Range of Reactions

in FCC/Mobile Broadband/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, August 10, 2010 - The announcement of a joint policy on network neutrality by Google and Verizon has garnered both criticism and support.

Commissioner Michael Copps was the only Federal Communications Commission official to comment: “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.”

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., former chairman and current senior member of the telecommunications subcommittee, criticized the proposal for its lack of inclusion of wireless services and the lack of consumer privacy protection.

He said: “The proposal also calls for tying the commission’s hands to protect consumers, foster innovation and investment and ensure fair competition and excludes safeguards for other unspecified or differentiated online services. Rather than a proposal from two corporate giants, a public process at the FCC is needed to ensure the preservation of an unfettered Internet ecosystem that will continue to be an indispensable platform for innovation, investment, entrepreneurship, and free speech.”

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who represents the district in which Google is based, said: “Consumers, not carriers, should determine which applications they want to use. At the end of the day, Congress and the FCC will decide the rules for net neutrality, not the companies. I remain convinced that net neutrality is necessary to ensure the continued development and innovation on the internet.”

The proposal received support from AT&T. “We’re not a party to this agreement, but will examine it closely. We remain committed to achieving a consensus solution to the net neutrality issue, either with the FCC or with the Congress. In that sense, the Verizon-Google agreement demonstrates that it is possible to bridge differences on this issue,” the firm said in a statement. During the conference call announcing the proposal Google and Verizon mentioned that the proposal was distributed to other ISPs but no other firm was willing to sign on.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association released a statement which said in part: “It is a positive sign that two companies with divergent views on the need for regulation can reach agreement on this complicated set of issues. We remain focused and committed to exploring a targeted legislative framework that can be applied more broadly across all industry players. The Google-Verizon announcement shows that it is possible for compromise and that we can reach a constructive solution”

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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