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Reading Between the Lines: How Google & Verizon Kill Mobile Internet Freedom by Regulating the FCC

written by: JCTorpey•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/19/2011

Verizon and Google have drawn up a Net Neutrality pact that intends to instill a "Framework" allowing the FCC to regulate certain portions of the Internet-or not. What gives the companies the right to determine what the FCC can do? What are the Additional services exempt from the Framework?

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    The Internet is "Owned"

    Google already “owns" about 70 percent of the Internet search market in addition to holding a major edge in the mobile handset market with Google-logo its numerous Android devices. Verizon is one of the big four leading wireless and cellular providers in the US. In addition to selling numerous smartphone devices, it also sells Google’s Android devices-putting Verizon on top again, especially with the rise in Android OS market share in the recent weeks.

    Given these facts, it would seem that the combined strength of both companies allows Verizon and Google to determine what specific devices and what portion of the Internet can be regulated-or not. With the recent deal the two companies made for regulating Net Neutrality, it would also seem that Verizon and Google also regulate the FCC-allowing the regulatory body enforcement of only certain portions of the agreement and the Internet itself.

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    Questions for Google & Verizon

    Verizon Logo This gives rise to the question, how does a company such as Google or Verizon, both commercial companies, have the authority to “allow" the FCC-a federally controlled regulatory body-to do anything? Doesn’t the FCC have the federal authority to regulate it itself? Unfortunately, in a word, no, but in a short explanation, the Supreme court handed down a decision that overturned a previous regulation between Comcast and the FCC, stating the FCC had no authority to do so. Again, more questions than answers.

    For example, Google and Verizon have decided that wireless Internet is not included in the Net neutrality agreement. As far as definitions go, if the Internet is indeed the same for everyone, one would assume that wireless customers are included as well. While it is true that wireless internet users do not have access to the same speeds as wired Internet users do, both camps are in fact accessing the same exact Internet. The provisions of Net Neutrality state that one person paying for a specific speed cannot be limited as compared to others paying for the same speeds. While this could, in fact, be interpreted as a different Internet speed, how can it be interpreted as a different Internet entirely? Because of the network and hardware behind “that" Internet.

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    What are Google & Verizon Regulating?

    What Verizon and Google are regulating is the technology behind the wireless Internet, the connections, the hardware, and other aspects of it. However, in their own words, the technology that allows users access to the Internet cannot be controlled either, so how are the two companies getting away with doing exactly that?

    When did Google and Verizon become the regulators of the Internet and FCC operations? The Framework “grants the FCC permission" to regulate and enforce each incident on a case-by-case basis. It appears that Google, the company that once insisted on a complete and unfaltering “open Internet policy" has finally given into Verizon’s demands for an edge on the competition. The precedent that this sets is disturbing and bodes, potentially, ill for the future. One of the potentially important issues raised is Internet 2. While there have been some stories in the news about this “experiment" the coverage has been “second page," so to speak. Internet 2 has existed for years, but in a “behind the scenes" way so that it has yet to meet the public eye.

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    The Internet2® Connection

    Internet2 is a non-profit consortium with over 320 members including corporations, government agencies, educational organizations, internet2® Logo and others. Founded in 1996, the Internet2 Consortium was dedicated to the development of advanced, optical networking technology that is needed by the research, education and medicine industries. Internet2 technology involves Ipv6 and optical networking. The Google–Verizon alliance and the current events surrounding Net Neutrality could allow private industry to control the future of the Internet because Internet2 is the future of the internet.

    The Internet is running out of Ipv4 addresses, the numbers that are encountered sometimes that are the actual network locations of computers, websites, smartphones and other, Internet connected devices. Ipv6 is intended to create new, nearly infinite address space and to add powerful new features, such as self-healing networking, security, and improved performance. The optical part of the equation is speed, much more speed.

    Currently the Internet runs on copper wire that in itself imposes speed limitations. Internet 2’s fiber optic lines offer hundreds of times the potential speed. This was the first goal of the Internet2 Consortium; provide the greater speed to universities and medicine needed to use those industry-advanced services.

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    Internet 2 Intentions

    Ultimately, it was intended to completely replace the existing Internet infrastructure. The connection to the subject of Net Neutrality is that both Google and Verizon are very much involved in the Internet2 Consortium and are rolling out the new technology, in limited distribution already. Verizon is already moving all their new customers to its new FIOS service, a fiber optic networking technology. Google is choosing cities to connect to a new, high-speed Internet.

    These companies are insisting that the FCC not be allowed to control the Internet or regulate how corporations operate in providing Internet services or the hardware needed to deploy the Internet. It should be obvious that it is not in the best interest of the public to allow any corporation to control something so important as the internet, or Internet2.

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    Google & Verizon Found a Loophole

    By using the clause that states that, “Additional online services" will forever be exempt from the Net Neutrality pact because they would consist of “additional or differentiated services," any Internet provider could theoretically include Internet2 to be covered by the exemption. It would seem that they have decided that mobile is the new internet and that they will not be regulated in the distribution of that service, which would allow them to also control the implementation of Internet2.

    While corporations should be allowed to do business, those same corporations should not be allowed to make law or public policy-especially when a federally regulated government body is already involved. Apparently, Google and Verizon are talking advantage of the fact that the FCC was told in no uncertain terms that they cannot penalize any company-even though it is the FCC's job to do so when necessary.

    Sources:

Google & Verizon's Open Internet Loopholes: Regulating the FCC and Internet2

The Net Neutrality issue is a big one, but it is one that does not include mobile Internet users. The two companies have written a Framework detailing what can be regulated, who can regulate it and why mobile Internet is not included. What are the connections to Iternet2?
  1. Reading Between the Lines: How Google & Verizon Kill Mobile Internet Freedom by Regulating the FCC
  2. Google and Verizon's Open Internet Framework: Not Open for Mobile Internet Users