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Better Late Than Never: FCC Chairman Admits Displeasure with Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Pact

Phillip Dampier November 23, 2010 Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't, Wireless Broadband 1 Comment
Courtesy CTIA

Julius Genachowski

Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski signaled recognition he was outmaneuvered by some of America’s largest broadband companies when he told attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit last week that a Verizon-Google compromise on Net Neutrality did serious harm to the Commission’s own plans on the subject of a free and open Internet.

“I would have preferred if they didn’t do exactly what they did when they did. It slowed down some processes that were leading to a resolution,” Genachowski said.

Genachowski was referring to last summer’s sudden agreement between the two tech giants — former opposites on Net Neutrality — regarding a proposed compromise.  Under its terms, Verizon would guarantee free speech rights on the Internet, but Google would concede Verizon’s rights to use limits, throttles, and other “network management” techniques on its wireless networks, which are critically important to Verizon’s bottom line.  Genachowski had been advocating broad-based Net Neutrality protections for all technologies, including wireless.

When word of Verizon and Google’s proposal hit the New York Times, it caused a series of confidential talks among industry players and FCC staffers to collapse.  That wasn’t bad news for consumer groups, who were locked out of the discussions from the start.  But it also may have also taken the wind out of the sails of the regulatory body’s urgency to implement broadband reform policies, as members of Congress opposed to the concept used news of the voluntary agreement as cannon fodder against “unnecessary and intrusive” government regulations.

It also embarrassed the FCC, which Daily Finance calls the most ineffectual regulatory agency in Washington.

Ever since the talks collapsed, all sides have been frustrated by the Commission’s apparent ongoing inaction on Internet policy.  Genachowski had made speeches earlier this year that left many with the impression Net Neutrality was a front burner issue at the Commission.  But as 2010 draws nearer to a close, the Commission has made no progress on the issue.  The incoming Republican Congress will not make it any easier, and consumer groups continue to call on the Commission to act before the end of the year.

Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver issued this statement:

“We are heartened to hear Chairman Genachowski finally express his disappointment with the Verizon-Google proposal. The loud public backlash made it evident that consumers would not accept a deal that would have divided the Internet into fast and slow lanes and allowed Internet service providers to block and prioritize content accessed through wireless devices. Clearly, relying on backroom deals cut between giant industry players is not the way to make policies that protect the public interest.

“The American people are still waiting for the chairman to deliver on his promise to establish real Net Neutrality rules that would prevent AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from creating toll roads on the Web. There is only one Internet, and consumers need clear rules to ensure that they are protected from Internet service providers who are seeking to monetize and monopolize the Web to pad their bottom lines.”

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Uncle Ken says:

    Admits Displeasure with Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Pact

    When are they going to do something about rather then
    Voice displeasure. The FCC seems to have become mediocure
    something like the UN all mouth no teeth. Both of them we could get
    rid of and save a lot of money. Federal reserve comes to mind also.
    Useless and more money could be saved. But what takes this week is Korea
    bombing an island and all they get is a condemnation. Those shells had to come
    from somewhere. How about hitting back rather looking like a fool. Not from BO. He
    is already gearing you for the next election no matter how much you starve or how
    much it cost you. Sorry but these stories are tied together.

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