Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 6 2010   5:23PM GMT

Verizon/Google rumors halt FCC net neutrality talks

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The FCC called off its multilateral talks with stakeholders on net neutrality in the wake of a rumored deal between Google and Verizon. Google and Verizon both denied the deal, but of course this sort of denial is common in the case of leaks; it might mean nothing at all or, at the most, that the details were slightly different than reported.

FCC comments about the results are the usual bureaucratic pap for the masses; the story we hear is that there was no progress in creating consensus. We didn’t hear that the Verizon/Google thing was as much a cause of failure as perhaps a result — lacking any indication that there would be an agreement on which a quick ruling might be created, the two companies may have simply moved forward on their own.

We’ve heard that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s position on net neutrality is hardening to the point where he objects to any premium IP-based content, which would include traffic that bypasses direct “Internet” delivery. This “no-premium-IP” position is one that concerns even Google, because it could essentially kill any IP delivery of premium TV and movie services, even from an IPTV platform like U-verse. That’s why AT&T has been so distant on the deal, the story goes. We’ve also heard that Google and Verizon were focusing on how IP-non-Internet traffic might be used for premium handling. All of this is rumor, but it’s probable that we’ll get the final details by the early fall at latest.

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