Google and Verizon announced a joint vision for the future of net neutrality this afternoon--a plan that may wield significant influence in the ever-intensifying debate over who controls the internet and its content. The plan calls for strictly regulated openness for today's wireline broadband--the DSL or cable internet you likely have at home. But for wireless networks (read: the future), the story is different.
For those that may be unaware of the issue, an exceedingly simplified fifteen-second net neutrality primer: The debate pits network providers (like Verizon) against companies and individuals who use said networks to deliver products and services to customers (like Google). As web applications become more central in nearly every aspect of public and private life, the network providers have grown increasingly interested in recouping the massive amounts of money they spend on building and maintaining network infrastructure by charging those companies who use an inordinate amount of bandwidth (like Google) for privileged access and delivery to customers. The internet has never worked this way, so the idea is obviously upsetting to many people, who cite the web's inherent openness as a key, if not the key detail that has allowed it to fundamentally change all of our lives in such a powerful way, and will allow it to continue to do so at the same breakneck pace in the future.
Google and Verizon's plan lays out specific rules to ensure that wireline internet services can not be used for any such tiered or paid access, and that all applications and services delivered over them (as long as they're legal) can be given no preference over any other traffic. That means established bandwidth hogs like YouTube and brand new bandwidth hogs built by Russian teenagers in their bedrooms like Chat Roulette will all get equal access to your eyeballs. This will also theoretically prevent broadband providers from intentionally limiting the speed of all BitTorrent traffic, something they've shown interest in doing in the past to avoid clogging their network with copyrighted materials; the protocol can just as easily be used legally.
But what has net neutrality activists worried--in my opinion, rightly so--is that in the new plan, almost none of these protections apply to wireless networks. Nor do they apply to a more ambiguously defined category of "additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV)" using current wireline networks.
But it's the wireless exemption that strikes the most worry in the hearts of free-internet proponents. As anyone watching the future of telecommunications and the internet will tell you, wireless web access will almost certainly one day overtake traditional wired networks as most people's primary means of getting online. With the last five years' explosion of smartphone usage, we're already watching this happen. Heck, if your home is in a good coverage area, it's entirely feasible today to scrap your monthly cable or DSL broadband services for something like a wireless MiFi hotspot from Verizon or Sprint for all but the most intensive surfing.
Should Google and Verizon's suggested plan be implemented, whoever beams the signal to your MiFi hotspot can shape the traffic of the web however they choose. This means blocking high-bandwidth sites like YouTube, giving preference to one streaming service over another (like only allowing Netflix's Watch Instantly vs. any other movie-streaming service), or blocking certain protocols like BitTorrent altogether.
Their reasoning for this proviso is that current-generation wireless networks are exceedingly fragile to maintain and expensive to build. No one's debating that--just ask anyone who uses an iPhone on AT&T in San Francisco or New York City. But why many see this as shortsighted is because as technology marches on, wireless broadband bandwidth will become a less precious commodity. Remember when we all exclusively used our phone lines to access the internet? It's pretty easy to see that if we were all still connecting with 28.8 modems, the internet wouldn't be what it is today. And the Verizons and the AT&Ts of the world wouldn't have to be fighting nearly as hard to maintain control of their networks at the expense of good old fashioned voice telephone calls.
But what happened was, DSL and fiber optic cable technologies sprung up. That shifted the burden and changed the issue from one of maintaining century-old copper wiring to building and maintaining satellite links and fiber optic cables with exponentially more capacity. Still a burden, yes, but a completely new and different one. The wireless space could change just as quickly. We could, one day, be swimming in more wireless bandwidth than we currently know what to do with.
The plan does acknowledges the industry's potential for rapid change, calling for the Government Accountability office to "report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers."
Which is all well and good. But this isn't 2005. Some predict wireless access to significantly overtake wired networks in as little as five years. And if that happens, and the core philosophies of Google and Verizon's policy proposal make it into whatever net neutrality legislation we may soon see, the internet could be a very different place.
You can read Google and Verizon's own take on the plan on Google's Public Policy blog here, which also links to the official two-page policy proposal.
Uh ohh! Whoever leaked this one is in deep doo-doo! The truth is supposed to be kept secret until it destorys us all.
Very long and thought out article explaining a lot about the issues people have with net neutrality. I personally don't know too much on the topic, thought my university just got rid of some of our own options by preventing us from using p2p downloads in an effort to curb illegal sharing. Of course this makes other things like downloading updates for certain programs difficult when their main service is though p2p.
Hopefully this doesn't come to full fruition though, as it does sound detrimental to the internet as we know it. Heck, maybe the leap forward in technology for wireless networks will be happening soon. I know the HMP Research Station in the arctic is currently working on wireless networks for space (via Stephen Braham twitter.com/warp) according to his tweet "Now have our C-band dish in superspeed @HMP in our final test of the season - prepping for future gigabit spaceflight work." I don't know much about wireless networks, but this would be good for us on the ground too right?
I guess I won't be getting an Android phone on Verizon Wireless anytime soon. ;)
Great, but I think its a bit overblown. It looks like Google and Verizon are being reasonable, saying that, currently, wireless networks can't be held to the same standards as wired networks, but that this should be re-evaluated annually. Maybe they could be more explicit about a metric for when wireless networks should become subject to these standards, but otherwise, it seems fairly reasonable.
@Steve, it is reasonable, until you realize that all legislative and judicial bodies in the US run on Precedent. If this passes, it opens the floodgate for them to keep saying that the infrastructure isn't up to the demand, and keep the restrictions going to earn money.
HALO Nerd ;D
mm, and as usual, the masses won't care as another of our rights is stripped away.
The simple answer for the FCC is to reregulate the telecom Pirates or move the business to a public utility. It costs Big Telecom at tiny fraction of your bill to deliver bandwidth.
Using public power infrastructure, a dirt cheap fiber to the block network could be installed in every city, town and village with wireless N 2/5 Ghz access points at each block node. From that block node, signal can be distributed via 1 GigE copper to most subscribers and fiber to the rare more distant ones.Portable users or folks who can't afford a wired connection can connect at 100+ Mbps with WiFi.
No need for new spectrum.
The FCC now recognizes that low speed smart meters would be a component on the broadband network they envision. The small incremental cost of the high speed network over the low speed smart meter net power companies are planning, pays for broadband network for a extra few dollars a month per subscriber.
Big Telecom makes 3000% profits on broadband with their ancient antiquated equipment. They could cut their fees to 3% of current level - $1 a month ADSL - and still make money Lots of room for a nonprofit to provide a service at for a few bucks a month. Google wired time warner cab for more.
Citizens could also do it for themselves with a cheap open-mesh router for $25 which lets them share their internet and secure the home network at the same time. The more plugged in, the more they mesh up. No fuss no programming just plug em in. Open-mesh allows restricting the amount of bandwidth available to neighbors. Contributors can also require logins, resell it if desired, restrict on mac addresses, and boot heavy users.
If people with enlightened social attitudes or a just a dislike of the phone company, switched to open-mesh WiFi routers from their junk easily compromised equipment Big Telecom sells, Big Telecom would be taking a serious beating.
An article "FCC abandons efforts at net neutrality compromise"
was Posted 8/6/2010 12:50 PM EDT in USA today. If the USA today article is true this article is incorrect, and the agreement between Google and Verizon has no meaning.
@Dustin2127 what rights exactly do you think you have that you think have been stripped away? or are you just spouting hyperbole?
First off. I love my Droid X and I hope it stays that way.
Second, I hate Verizon and Im starting to hate Google
When I first got a Envy phone from verizon, they had " Mobile Web" which was a knock off version of the internet and they charged per kb. I delined the data plan and kept voice and text. Well verizon saw fit to bill me $2.99 every month for data totaling 0.0kb. WTF?
WTF indeed. Turns out their system, ( which they said was a glitch and cant be fixed ) defaults to charge $2.99 every month even if no data is used because the text feature uses data. But I paid $5/month for free unlimited texting.
Every month they billed me. For me, it was the principal of the matter so every month I called, spoke to a manager and they refunded my nearly $3. Every time, they said it wouldnt happen again.
Imagine, at the time before smartphones and the first Mobile web Phones came out that used the Mobile web, like the Envy I had, they billed customers for data they didnt use.
Lets say 1 million customers got billed the $2.99/month " by accident" due to this " Glitch". They just made 3 million dollars on bogus data charges from their customers in one month.
Once everything moved over to actual data plans and actual web on the phones now, Im guessing thats gone now.
Talk about a scam or what. I had all my bills proving this but being one of the little people, whos going to believe or represent me or the people?
And Verizon has the nerve to push advertisements to our phones via APP icons that link to download apps that we dont want. I dont want Kindle or any other crap Icons on my phone, but am forced to have them because Verizon forces them to the phone via service books.
I paid for the phone dammit, I pay the outrageouse bill and follow my contract, ya jerks.
Problem is they all do this in one form or another and its BS.
We should all file to the FCC and demand some regulation.
As for Google, they allowed this on their phones so they could partake in the profits. Thanks Google for selling out.
Now they modify the OS and the phones to verizons will in order to keep channeling us their Crapola. Dont tell me its open source when as soon as I try something, im stopped by Verizon and their goonz.
You cant spell Patriot without Riot and we may need one agains the scams of the cell phone companies, their rediculouse charges for crap, there scams and how about their failure to fullfill the contract, when they mess up, they just do something on a computer and make it disapear and we have to deal with it. If we try and Cancel, they charge us a fee, even if they are the ones not fullfilling it.
I wish I had a good lawyer dammit.
END RANT :D
Oh, and by the way, when they tell you its a " Glitch " thats BS.
I work in IT, its not a " Glitch " as they call it. What it is is that when they coded the software, they defaulted to round up rather than down, just like the banks do to gain the fractions of pennies in order to make extra money that doesnt really exist.
Remember Office Space?
Its like that, only instead they did it with the software that monitors your KB data, it rounds the Zeros to Ones and then you incure the minimum fee.
Im sure they just missed that by accident right? Im sure when they went through the money and found all this extra profit they just missed it right? Im sure when the government regulated them they just missed...Oh wait, the FCC and government harldy regulate jack chit, and yet one nipple shows on T.V. and they are all over it.
Anyways, my statements proved it and I even had the tier two and manegers say on the phone that it was occuring and it was a " glitch".
Yet, when I tried to cancel my contract early due to them saying that I had to have the data plan to have the text or cancel the data plan to not get the $3 charge, this meant a violation of the contract by them because they where charging me for a service I didnt use or want, and couldnt provide me with what I paid for without the data plan which was over charging me.
Yet, when I canceld and quit paying, they tried to charge me $300 for canceling early.
So Verizon is a bunch of Scammers and Google is falling in with them.
Again, I need a good lawyer, thats free :D cuz I got the evidance.
going back to the actual article: like the article mentioned, as our technology expands, wireless bandwidth will soon increase and it will become a less precious commodity - and 'all wireless' is where we're heading quickly. but there's this exemption on wireless. because of this, they will be able to shape traffic on the web however they want as you access it through your smartphones or other wireless devices, giving preferences to certain services over another - it will probably become a money game (as most things are now - bribery for exposure). this is not acceptable to me. i think they're trying to implement their evil plan before it's too late (aka when the technology expands the bandwidth).
Verizon: I already gave up on you awhile ago. Google: I'm using Bing now.
What rights do you think you have? For every right you think you have I bet someone can show you a restriction or exemption that invalidates your right whenever someone with more money/power/connections feels like it.
*Remember the Democratic Party is here to protect you from yourself because you are to stupid and poor to do alone.
i read nothing but bad about google. like there a search engine but i guess not anymore there more like a private wal mart and the control everything from there phones to the damn street view vans stealing data and have you heard they bought rc helicopter drones.
Damned Google. First they decide that anything a person writes belongs to them and they can choose to sell it and give the author whatever % they feel fair (HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE!?!?!?) and now this. It's seriously frightening.
This is why I have no problems utilizing verizon's "dun" hack. I pay for unlimited data. How I access that data (my device or my pc) is unimportant. I pay for unlimited data, i am going to access my unlimited data how and when i choose. They try to charge additional to tether!!!
Verizon simply loves to charge you more and give you less. ATT too, why do you think they dropped unlimited data? Why give you more when they can charge for less! It's a sham.
Verizon would also want you to PAY for VZNavigator MONTHLY. Why? Just for the privilege to keep unlocked the GPS feature built INTO the phone itself? A few file swaps with BitPIM and you can keep your GPS and your monthly navigator fee.
Verizon also likes to nerf it's phones hardware. I currently have an Env Touch. Thanks to service menu's I have increased my network speed as well as increased my hardware playback (youtube etc is now smoooooothe) in addition to unlocking my camera's full resolution capability.
Pay to play music via vcast? You have got to be kidding me! Micro SD card turns the phone into an "ipod" in an instant. Keep your vcast fees, I have 4 gb of music on me and if i wanted more i can either reload the card or swap out SD cards.
Bottom line is this. As long as these profiteering gluttons continue to rule unchecked, we will all continue to pay more and more for less and less.
If it ain't broke don't fix it. It ain't broke. There is no need for the improperly-named "Net Neutrality" nonsense in any form. There are enough providers of service and infrastructure that competition guarantees consumers will get the best service possible. It's called a free market. Users complain, they switch to another provider, they eventually get what they want--no need for government intervention. Let the infrastructure builders recoup their investment by throttling bandwidth if they wish. They built it. If we don't like it, we can switch to another provider. Access to and use of the internet is not an unalienable right. Government meddling begets more government meddling until you get something as stupid as our bizarre income tax system.
And for all you "America's falling behind" hand-wringers, the wireless infrastructure will get built as fast as economics dictates it, just like our petrol-delivery infrastructure. Just because other countries are willing to go into more debt to publicly fund wireless isn't reason enough for us to do it. Never forget that the free market does it best.
I think that internet speeds and bandwidth allowances should be equal for all sites and protocols, e.g. if you go to google.com, it'll load exactly as fast and be treated exactly the same as randomobscurewebsite.com, and if you download, say, a linux iso, via bit torrent, you won't be discriminated against by your isp by allowing you less bandwidth than a direct download.
In short, I think that the ability to use the internet however the hell you want to with no artificial boundaries should be a basic human right.
@Dustin2127, you're joking right? A basic human right as in "I was born with the right to use the internet?" On the same level as the human right to live, be free, and pursue your dreams?
The millions of individuals and companies that cobbled together the infrastructure of the internet in their own self-interest (i.e.; to make money) have no right to charge whatever rate is mutually agreeable to them and their customers?
Doesn't that sound a little (or massively) absurd?
First off I would like to say when it comes time to vote in your specific country in democratic elections, do so.
Voting for people in govn't who are for free information and communication over the internet are the ones to vote for. As our reading, writing and all other forms of education, entertainment, video, even communication are becoming more internet based, digital and free. Corporations and large buisness are losing money because of this. More FREE digital information communication etc. is becoming more and more crucial to our way of life. These large multi-conglomerates cannot have our freedom's and rights taken away from us. If you don't pay attention and don't do something small like getting out come election time and voting for the right person or people. Then you will slowly have your rights and freedoms taken away from you by big buisness. So be aware and make sure that you get out and vote come election time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The shell add in the top right spells Tibet.
Any connections to China's state-owned oil firm being the largest company in the world? (by market cap)
Oh wait, there's lots of them. Let me clarify:
third row, down
I don't see this as such a big problem and not at all scary. Google controls a bit too much of your internet activity already, that's what scares me. Marty from http://www.expertulpc.com
wtf why would you want free internet just imagine how bad the connections would be if it was free. I dont mind paying $220 for phone cable internet from my cable company I can download a 3gb movie in 5min play mw2 at the same time with out any lag. when my fried tried the same thing on his wireless internet from virison wireless the lag on xbox live was perty bad
Nice article, I had problems understanding from other sources why this was such a big deal but I always was skipping the link between wireless internet and in the future. I don't want to spell doomsday but I sure hope net neutrality remains (as do most people besides some huge companies probably)
I find it rather ironic that USA, supposedly one of the wealthiest countries in the world, has such poor network infrastructure. In Poland 99% of people have access to at least ADSL at 2Mbps, up to 16Mbps, and in most cities cable television providers offer up to 120Mbps connectivity - for less than $50. As for wireless access I can get internet on my Nokia N95 (or my laptop when I use my phone as a modem) everywhere in Poland, with speeds varying from ~30kbps at very remote places where only plain old GPRS is available, to 7.2Mbps HSDPA in biggest cities. It's not cheap or (in most cases) fast enough to be a main connection, but it is fine for mobile access. On top of that more and more places (restaurants, fast-food chains, malls, tourist attractions) are providing free or cheap WiFi access - usually low speed, as our "brilliant" goverment stated that free internet faster than 256kbps would be unfair competition to commercial providers, but it's still better than nothing.
I find our cell phone service much better than what I read about yours. Near 100% country coverage, cheap calls and text messaging, providers not messing with phone software that much, no stupid restrictions like "no Internet on computer through iPhone" i heard about, phones sold (with few exceptions) under manufacturers name so you can get phone you want with provider you want...
And to think we are just 20 years out of communism...
we should all be concerned about net neutrality, firstly let me remind everyone that the internet has no centre and does not belong to any one company or country.
I'm British and do not want a US company such as Google or Verizon rstricting my access to the greatest resource on Earth. Neither do I want to subscribe to an internet provider only to find that I cant browse all of the site's I would like to see because they cant afford to pay for a bandwidth charge, neither should the likes of Amazon or Google checkout be better served by infrastructure than an online shop I might build.
This Google/Verizon deal will ultimately mean that network providers become content providers (you the web user will provide the content, they will sell it to others and give you none of the proceeds) by artificially forcing the internet to have a centre in the US (or anywhere for that matter) will mean that international web sites will have to comply with US censorship laws, meaning an end to freedom of the press and your right to find out the things that they don't want you to. Wikki-leaks wouldn't exist.
Can you imagine how horrified we would all be if two huge chinese companies tried to do what Google and verizon has done. I can see the headlines, "China now owns the World Wide Web".
Fancing looking at porn, well that too will be restricted to being ultra tame not worth looking at porn. How about downloading a DVD, at present you can pay your money and enjoy a film (legally I might add) not yet released in your country at the same time it's just been released in the US. That too will end, you will have to wait for it to distributed in your country before you can get that head start.
In short the Google/Verizon deal causes more problems than it solves and we should all fight it, by complaining to our political leaders.
I work as a web developer/designer and might even wind up out of a job as a result of this deal. Google's motto is 'Do No Evil' let's hold them to it.