(Evil Google logo from TechRepublic.)
The idea, which Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg explained in a Wall Street Journal piece back in January, is to allow for service level agreements (SLAs) on critical services that need low latency -- like large medical files being used in real-time -- and leave everything else alone by voluntary agreement.
Ever since a federal court denied the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality in the case of Comcast, the agency and large stakeholders have been seeking a way forward.
When the agency made its proposals for replacement rules a few months ago, the big telcos jumped on it, making clear through allies in Congress they would be overturned -- or at least delayed until they became meaningless.
Fact is Google has no financial incentive to sell out net neutrality, but every reason to come up with a fair agreement. Unlike the telcos, Google provides data services and not just pipes. It also has more core assets, managed with more efficiency, than either Verizon or AT&T.
The purpose of coming to an agreement is to allow the market to move forward, in Google's direction. Right now market conditions favor Google as the low-cost provider of storage, transit, and computing services.
The Heritage Foundation, which doesn't want the FCC involved at all, is insisting that any deal between Google and Verizon would be between Google and Verizon. It would not obligate AT&T, which wants to limit video traffic over its thin wireless pipes, and would have to be passed by Congress, which has become a telecom black hole.
What's most problematic to me is the idea that wireless services could throttle video and apps that aren't paying extra fees for transport. That may be why there are new reports saying the stakeholder talks have ended without a final agreement.
Here's the deal. Some customers and applications think they need service guarantees to work, but the consumer market does not. Verizon is keeping hands-off the consumer market, knowing that bandwidth market is not capacity constrained, but trying to maintain power over the wireless market, where bandwidth is constrained.
That's not Google doing evil. That's Google doing business so the rest of us can, too. The solution to this is more WiFi, to unlicense new wireless bands rather than selling them to the highest bidders, who can't build them out anyway and so try to sell bandwidth through an eye dropper.
Follow the money. The money is in liberating wireless so it can expand as wired has, to the point where the whole net neutrality debate becomes worthless and SLAs become like the extended warranties on new PCs.