Negotiations in the Spotlight: Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality
Net neutrality has been a big issue in the telecommunications world for a few years. According to Wikipedia, net neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, with no restrictions by Internet providers, governments or other entities on the content.

Proponents of net neutrality include many software and Internet companies, chief among them Google. Opposing net neutrality are the cable and telecommunications industry and some hardware companies.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in negotiations to achieve a compromise over net neutrality since June. The FCC was advocating a “third way,” which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said would:

1) Place federal policy on a sound legal foundation
2) Narrow the approach to only the transmission component of broadband access
3) Restore the status quo
4) Establish boundaries to regulatory overreach
5) Use a similar approach as to wireless communications

Read the complete Third Way solution here:

The closed-door negotiations were being held with four of the largest Web firms (Google, Verizon, Skype, and AT&T). The Washington Post reported the following:

“Thwarted in his campaign to set government control over consumer access to the Internet, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has been trying to salvage his efforts by negotiating directly with a handful of the biggest Web firms and network service providers.

His goal is for those firms to put aside their differences on how Internet service providers control content on their networks and agree on legislation that Genachowski can present to Congress.” Complete Washington Post article here:

Meanwhile, Google and Verizon were involved in private negotiations, and the parties have reached an agreement on Wednesday on how network operators can manage Web traffic. The deal has not been officially reported. (Complete Washington Post story here: )

On Thursday, the FCC called off its negotiations, saying that they have not produced results.
According to Tony Bradley of PC World, the negotiations were called off because:

“Reports of a secret deal between Verizon and Google for preferential treatment of Google traffic on Verizon’s networks may have been a catalyst to the breakdown of negotiations.”

(Read two PC World articles about FCC net neutrality negotiations here: )

It remains uncertain what the future is for net neutrality negotiations.

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