Google, Verizon Make Net Neutrality Proposal

Google and Verizon Communications have released a proposal that suggests the U.S. Federal Communications Commission should enforce network neutrality rules and fine broadband providers up to US $2 million for violations.

Officials from the two companies, in an announcement Monday, said they hope to move the often-contentious net neutrality debate ahead with the recommendations. Under the proposal, broadband providers could not block or degrade Web traffic, although they could provide "differentiated online" services apart from the public Internet.

The announcement comes after days of rumors and news reports that the two companies had reached an agreement on how Verizon would handle Google's traffic. But the proposal is a set of recommendations to U.S. policymakers and broadband providers, and the proposal would not allow for any prioritization of Google's traffic on the public Internet, said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's chairman and CEO.

"There is no business arrangement, and reports that there was a business relationship are false, misleading and incorrect," said Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and CEO.

Under net neutrality, or open Internet, rules, broadband providers would be prohibited from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic.

"The original architects of the Internet got the big things right," said Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy, and Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president of public affairs, policy, and communications, in a blog post. "By making the network open, they enabled the greatest exchange of ideas in history. By making the Internet scalable, they enabled explosive innovation in the infrastructure."

The proposal is an effort to "find ways to protect the future openness of the Internet and encourage the rapid deployment of broadband," Davidson and Tauke wrote.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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