Why the FCC's net neutrality negotiations failed - and the opportunity that presents

Gigi Sohn, Public Knowledge

This summer has been one of the most exhausting in recent memory.  First, there has been a constant barrage of record heat and humidity.  Second, there is the continuing battle over whether and how to preserve the FCC’s authority to protect broadband consumers and ensure universal broadband access.  While the former is somewhat predictable for Washington, the latter has been like a soap opera, with lots of plot twists, make-ups and break-ups and nearly a few tears (of utter frustration).

The latest wrinkle came on Thursday, when FCC Chief of Staff Eddie Lazarus declared the end of the two month negotiations between AT&T, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association on one side, and Google, the Internet telephony provider Skype and the Open Internet Coalition (an industry-public interest coalition of which PK is a member) on the other.  Lazarus said the talks have “been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet - one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice.” 

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Google-Verizon net neutrality pact riddled with loopholes

Matt Lasar, Ars Technica

Even before Google and Verizon published their sweeping new Internet proposals for Congress, the net neutrality troops were out in force against the alliance.

"DON'T BE EVIL," proclaimed the Monday morning banner headline announcing the delivery of a petition signed by 300,000 people urging the search engine giant to back away from its alliance with Verizon.

"Google has always presented itself as a different kind of corporate entity," warned Justin Ruben, executive director of "The fact that they are involved in a deal that would kill Internet freedom directly contradicts this image. We hope that Google will reconsider before they are seen as just another giant corporation out to make a buck regardless of the consequence."

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Inslee hits Google/Verizon proposal, urges FCC action on open Internet

Office of Congressman Jay Inslee

This afternoon Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01) released the following statement regarding the policy proposal released jointly by Google and Verizon on rules for access to the internet:

"This afternoon's announcement from Google and Verizon falls far short of the net neutrality principles necessary to protect consumers online. I m disappointed that such esteemed leaders would put forward a policy proposal that fails to protect the very foundation of the Internet s success open access for all. Many of us have been warning for a number of years that broadband service providers would begin to use a lack of net neutrality regulations to prioritize their increasingly diverse business offerings and content, thereby jeopardizing open internet access. Today's announcement is one more reason that the FCC must act to reclassify broadband and protect consumers online. The American people deserve nothing less than a free and open internet where ideas and innovation are allowed to flourish, and today s proposal has made it even clearer that we cannot rely on industry alone to do just that."

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Consumer advocates protest Google-Verizon net neutrality statement

Byron Acohido, Technology Live

Howls of protest are pouring in from consumer advocacy groups over Google's latest stance on Net Neutrality. The search giant earlier today teamed up with Verizon on a joint policy statement that left room for Internet providers to charge Web sites premium fees for some services.

The two companies called for "a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition."

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Public interest groups want Genachowski to set deadline for clarifying broadband jurisdiction

New America Foundation

A coalition of public interest organizations presented their unified position to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and his senior staff on the Commission's Open Internet and Broadband Internet Service Framework proceedings. Amid reports of a deal between Verizon and Google to prioritize certain traffic on the Internet and the FCC announcing the end of closed-door meetings with the largest Internet companies and Internet Service Providers, the proposed framework comes at a critically important time. At the meeting the coalition stressed the importance of setting a firm deadline for the FCC to clarify its jurisdiction over broadband service as well a necessary framework for enforcing meaningful Open Internet rules.

The unified position public interest groups laid out to FCC Chairman Genachowski this week parallels strong support from Congressional leadership and the White House calling for immediate action to preserve an open Internet," stated Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "Non-discrimination and consumer protections are critically important for innovation and Chairman Genachowski has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that our 21st Century economy is built upon a sound foundation."

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The People prevail: FCC calls off closed-door meetings on net neutrality

Megan Tady, Save the Internet

You called, you emailed and you signaled your outrage as the Federal Communications Commission continued to meet behind closed doors with Internet companies, and Google and Verizon hatched a side plan on how to manage the Internet.

And then, you prevailed. Amidst a tidal wave of public pressure, FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus called off closed-door negotiations with major ISPs and Internet companies, pledging “to seek broad input on this vital issue.”

Free Press, and CREDO helped generate more than 2,000 phone calls to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s office over the last 24 hours. You called to complain about the FCC’s lack of transparency and urged the agency to put the public interest first in any negotiations over the fate of the Internet.

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Inslee to FCC: act fast to protect open Internet

Office of Congressman Jay Inslee

This week Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01) released the following statement regarding recent reports of discussions between Google and Verizon to create a tiered system of access for users:

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Just say no to fake net neutrality

Derek Turner, CNet

The debate in Washington over Net neutrality--the fundamental principle that keeps the Internet open and free from discrimination--is coming to a head. That means that the wheeling and dealing is under way, and consumers need to watch out.

There are currently closed-door meetings taking place between phone and cable behemoths, and the biggest Internet companies, to craft a "compromise" deal that could carve up the Internet for them and leave consumers and smaller competitors behind. If the fix is in, it won't be long before they launch a PR campaign presenting this scheme as some kind of middle ground far from the "radical fringe." But buyer beware: This could be fake Net neutrality.

Real Net neutrality is when phone and cable companies cannot pick winners and losers on the Internet. Real Net neutrality is when new innovators with good ideas have an equal chance at competing against Google and Yahoo because they don't have to pay ISPs for preferential treatment.

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Municipal broadband haters in NC dealt a blow

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica

"O joyous day! O rapture!" blogged a community broadband advocate on Monday. "That insidious bill [that] incumbents' pocket legislator, NC state Senator Hoyle, tried to pass to kill muni broadband networks met its final demise over the weekend."

Indeed it has. North Carolina Senator David Hoyle's (D-GA) now-defeated amendment (S-1209) was cosmetically titled "An Act to Ensure That A Local Government That Competes with Private Companies in Providing Communication Services Has The Support Of Its Citizens." But advocates of city/county backed high speed Internet projects just knew it as the Municipal-Broadband Must Die Die Die bill.

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FCC moves to expand role in protecting broadband rights

Edward Wyatt, New York Times

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 2 on Thursday to move toward giving itself the authority to regulate the transmission component of broadband Internet service, a power the commission’s majority believes is central to expanding the availability of broadband.

The vote formally begins a period of public comment on an F.C.C. proposal to overturn a previous commission ruling that classified broadband transmission as a lightly regulated information service.

The proposal would designate broadband transmission as a telecommunications service, which, as with telephone service, would make it subject to stricter regulation.

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