Google: Net Neutrality proposal 'represents real progress' in debate

After almost a week of criticism surrounding its announcement Monday that it had come to an agreement with Verizon over net neutrality, Google on Thursday attempted to defend itself. The Mountain View, Calif. company characterized the deal as progress on the issue, and done in the 'spirit of compromise.'

Since the announcement Monday, several companies have weighed in on the move. AT&T called the deal a 'positive step,' while Facebook criticized it over the fact that it excludes wireless traffic. Google took opponents to task for mischaracterizing some portions of the agreement, although it admitted that it didn't expect everyone to agree on the issue.

"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," counsel Richard Whitt argued in a fact sheet on the issue. "We're not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that [this] proposal ... is preferable to no protection at all."

Whitt pointed out that there is currently no method for the federal government to enforce equal access principles. His assertion does have basis in the facts: following the Comcast decision, it is now case law that the FCC does not have regulatory authority over broadband access under current rules.

Google and Verizon's proposal would for the first time give the FCC a legal basis to ensure net neutrality principles, and Whitt noted that Verizon had voluntarily already agreed to abide by the requirements set forth even without legislative action that would make it mandatory.

A good portion of the criticism has come on the issue of wireless traffic, and Whitt admitted that in order to advance the deal, it agreed to not ask for net neutrality principles on that traffic. He argued that due to bandwidth constraints, it is more necessary to manage traffic actively on wireless connections.

"This is a policy proposal -- not a business deal," he wrote. "Of course, Google has a close business relationship with Verizon, but ultimately this proposal has nothing to do with Android."

Regardless of what happens with net neutrality, in the end it will come down to action in Washington. Whitt said that it will ultimately be in the hands of legislators and regulators to do what they need to do in the space to ensure an open Internet.

"We're not so presumptuous to think that any two businesses could -- or should -- decide the future of this issue," he concluded. "We're simply trying to offer a proposal to help resolve a debate which has largely stagnated after five years."

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