FCC Calls Off Stakeholder Discussions On Net Neutrality

I read a couple of dozen articles about the Google-Verizon deal, and this one from Gigom seems to have the most detailed version of events: The Fed

I read a couple of dozen articles about the Google-Verizon deal, and this one from Gigom seems to have the most detailed version of events:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just called off the “closed door” network neutrality negotiations it was conducting between major ISPs, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition, after news broke Wednesday afternoon that Google and Verizon had reached an independent deal on the issue outside of the FCC negotiations. The end of these talks, which had been roundly criticized because they were being held in secret, may be a sign of hope for the FCC to push ahead with the public debate. However, it’s more likely another example of how powerless the agency has become.

The FCC released a statement today from Edward Lazarus, FCC chief of staff, saying:

“We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions. It has 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. All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue.”

The FCC decision comes less than 24 hours after hysterical and confused reports of a Google and Verizon deal on net neutrality began circulating around media outlets and Washington.

I wish I could tell you what’s going on behind the scenes and how exactly Google and Verizon plan to compromise, but the general framework seems to abandon the idea of network neutrality for wireless networks and may involve some pay for prioritization.

So far, Google and Verizon have reportedly come to an agreement that discriminating against some traffic will be permitted on wireless networks, but not wireline networks (which we should have realized already given how closely the success of Google’s Android platform is tied to Verizon’s wireless business). The deal may or may not involve paying for prioritization of content. (For a closer look of the issues they’re likely discussing check out this filing from January when Google and Verizon laid out their points of agreement and disagreement.)

Aside from the details, the bigger issue is that the FCC has been neutered, and Silicon Valley had a small part to play in the operation. Technology companies didn’t hold the knife, but they’re not protesting either, at least not in an effective way that Washington understands. All the net neutrality videos hosted on YouTube aren’t going to change things; votes and lobbying will.

So, if in the not-too-distant future, Google and the big ISPs are the gatekeepers to the Internet for media, video and applications, here’s how it all went down.

Sounds like the new FCC head completely lost control of the situation. Go read the rest.

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