Fight the 'Facts' about Google's Network Policy Proposal

Google is defending their Network Policy Proposal with a new post to their public policy blog. Read it here. "Facts about our network neutrality policy proposal"

Far from being factual, the post to the Google Public Policy blog reiterates previous fallacies about their Network Management proposal. Rather than write another piece on exactly why this policy represents a massive sell-out of true Net Neutrality principles by Google -- I'm going to deconstruct some of these so called facts.


MYTH: Google has “sold out” on network neutrality.
FACT: Google has been the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality over the past five years. No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet.

My Take: this is true. But it has been Vint Cerf leading this charge. Where is he now? Hiding in a Google bunker somewhere? He's certainly not been on the news circuit endorsing the deal and claiming how much a victory it is for the open internet. The fact is, something critical has changed at Google -- a major policy shift that leaves Net Neutrality advocates like myself wondering what the hell happened. With headline quotes like
"carrier-humping net neutrality surrendermonkey" -- its pretty clear that not many people are buying that this is good for the web. Good for Google, good for Android and Verizon -- but not the rest of us garage inventors. Google, you've sold out.


MYTH: This proposal represents a step backwards for the open Internet.
FACT: If adopted, this proposal would for the first time give the FCC the ability to preserve the open Internet through enforceable rules on broadband providers. At the same time, the FCC would be prohibited from imposing regulations on the Internet itself.

My Take: If adopted this plan sets a tone for policy. It says that only one principle of Net Neutrality matters -- that being the payola principle. Thats a pretty important part of Net Neutrality, and Americans might be able to give Google some credit for finally getting some basic protection against payola. But, here in Canada, this is a complete and total step backwards for Google policy. We already have these protections, and as far as the internet is concerned we always did. Section 27(2) is law, its essentially the same as the google wireline prohibition -- but its stronger because its not limited by some vague concept of material harm. But these protections haven't worked in Canada. We still have CAIP vs Bell, we still have throttled torrents, and we've still got QoS services, differentiated services (like Digital Phones!!) that all violate the principles of true Net Neutrality. Fundamentally WE DO NOT HAVE PERMISSIONLESS INNOVATION IN CANADA... and neither will the US under this proposal. Thats why we protested on the hill, thats why we have bill C-552 -- because we recognise that 'undue' language isn't good enough. So, is it a myth that this proposal is a step backwards -- I don't think so.


MYTH: This proposal would eliminate network neutrality over wireless.
FACT: It’s true that Google previously has advocated for certain openness safeguards to be applied in a similar fashion to what would be applied to wireline services. However, in the spirit of compromise, we have agreed to a proposal that allows this market to remain free from regulation for now, while Congress keeps a watchful eye.

Why? First, the wireless market is more competitive than the wireline market, given that consumers typically have more than just two providers to choose from. Second, because wireless networks employ airwaves, rather than wires, and share constrained capacity among many users, these carriers need to manage their networks more actively. Third, network and device openness is now beginning to take off as a significant business model in this space.

My Take: This is complete and total BS, and its why Google will now be known as the surrender-monkey company. First, the wireless market is not significantly more competitive than the wireline market -- a handful of multi-billion dollar corps does not true competition make. Open Access could help eliminate some of that competitive issue, but not much. But its the second argument Google professes that makes my blood BOIL.

Because bandwidth is constrained on mobile networks is exactly why we need Net Neutrality there the most! You see, Net Neutrality is a PRINCIPLE... it says all content is created equal, everyone has the permission to innovate without asking or paying a carrier. It says that I, the end user, get to decide what is important to _me_. This proposal GUTS this principle and replaces it with one where Skype cannot truly compete on a level playing field, and one where we are all injured by this retardation of innovation. This proposal will ensure that in the eyes of regulators, the principle of Net Neutrality is meaningless, and only the symptom of payola is important.

That there is constrained bandwidth for mobile only means that what we can do with our phones today must be done in relation to availability. It's not for Verizon to tell me that their latest Video service is more important than my Skype traffic. Its not OK for Google to even suggest that in a constrained supply scenario, that certain traffic is more worthy of bandwidth. No billion dollar corporation can make this call. The result of this means that ALL NEW TECHNOLOGY will end up in the slow lane until they either force change, or pay a fee. It's precisely what everyone has been fighting for on wireline -- and its even more important on wireless.

Verdict. Surrender-Monkey's the lot of yeh.


MYTH: This proposal will allow broadband providers to “cannibalize” the public Internet.
FACT: Another aspect of the joint proposal would allow broadband providers to offer certain specialized services to customers, services which are not part of the Internet. So, for example, broadband providers could offer a special gaming channel, or a more secure banking service, or a home health monitoring capability – so long as such offerings are separate and apart from the public Internet. Some broadband providers already offer these types of services today. The chief challenge is to let consumers benefit from these non-Internet services, without allowing them to impede on the Internet itself.

My Take: This is where the entire proposal goes from being well meaning, to rediculus. The idea that a carrier can prioritize gaming by their partner companies, that they can launch digital phone services that compete with skype and vonage... that they can launch IPTV services to kill netflix and hulu. This is the very definition of Net Neutrality and Google, you just dropped an Atom bomb on that principle. This creates a competition differential that will harm our digital marketplace with disastrous consequence. It means that the established monopolies of a bygone era will continue to dominate the garage inventor, will continue to slow down the growth in speed of our networks as they apportion more of that cable line into your house for their own purposes. It means, that everything we've feared will become true.

This is no Myth and what Google is selling here doesn't slay it. We've seen Shaw Digital Phone vs Vonage Canada... this is the future of differentiated services and its not Net Neutrality.


MYTH: Google is working with Verizon on this because of Android.
FACT: This is a policy proposal – not a business deal. Of course, Google has a close business relationship with Verizon, but ultimately this proposal has nothing to do with Android. Folks certainly should not be surprised by the announcement of this proposal, given our prior public policy work with Verizon on network neutrality, going back to our October 2009
blog post, our January 2010 joint FCC filing, and our April 2010 op-ed.

My Take:
Of course this mobile exclusion has nothing to do with Andriod.... riiiiight.


MYTH: Two corporations legislating the future of the Internet.
FACT: Our two companies are proposing a legislative framework to the Congress for its consideration. We hope all stakeholders will weigh in and help shape the framework to move us all forward. We’re not so presumptuous to think that any two businesses could – or should – decide the future of this issue. We’re simply trying to offer a proposal to help resolve a debate which has largely stagnated after five years.

My Take: If we lived in a truly democratic society where Google and Verizon weren't spending ungodly amounts of money on lobbyists then maybe I could buy this. Two businesses, of this size, working together, could very well purchase this policy from the US government -- and potentially capture the FCC in the process. Lets not pretend, Google, that your money will not decide the future of this issue. It almost certainly will.