Verizon-Google deal could influence continued wrangling over net neutrality rules
Google and Verizon are expected to proceed as early as Monday with their announcement on a net neutrality agreement. But given the end of parallel Federal Communications Commission negotiations for a broader private sector agreement, some readers have asked: Does the Google-Verizon pact matter?
Yes. The details of their announcements will likely be used as the basis for further negotiations among industry players and a lot more wrangling at the FCC and on the Hill for federal policy, analysts said. In other words, this could drag on.
On Friday, we wrote about how the end of broader industry negotiations led by the FCC will put pressure on chairman Julius Genachowski to proceed with his regulatory push over broadband services. Or, we said, he could continue to kick it down the road in search of another solution.
Here is one way, outlined by analysts, on how he could delay going down his controversial path of reclassification. Delay wouldn’t be popular among public interest groups and pro-net neutrality advocates. And it wouldn’t help growing frustration with his leadership by some.
Paul Gallant, an analyst at Concept Capital, said there is still the possibility that an industry-led agreement could be struck on the most contentious parts of net neutrality that could be presented to Congress for legislation. As we’ve said before, this is what the FCC prefers. And between the choice of reclassification and narrow legislation, so do the carriers.
“We do not believe the end of stakeholder talks as currently structured mean that a deal cannot still be worked out,” Gallant said. “Net neutrality is deeply contentious, the stakeholders are influential and the battle is increasingly being viewed through the (unprecedented) prism of how the FCC might affect upcoming Congressional elections.”
One source familiar with the FCC-led talks said the Verizon-Google deal (which is expected to keep wireless networks unregulated and allow for some paid priority of bandwidth that isn’t part of the public Internet, a practice known as managed services) could be seen as a baseline for any future negotiations.
It’s unclear if the FCC would take up negotiations with Web and carrier giants again and it's not essential for the agency to participate, some analysts said. In a statement, Genachowski’s chief of staff, Eddie Lazarus, kept that possibility open. He said he was calling off “this round of stakeholder discussions.”
“All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue,” he said.
Analysts said Genachowski could delay the agency’s September meeting amid new negotiations to avoid his bid to re-regulate broadband providers. Or he could add it to the schedule after the agenda is announced.
August 9, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Broadband , FCC , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon | Tags: FCC, Federal Communications Commission, Google, Julius Genachowski, Net Neutrality, Verizon
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