Free Press, PK Take Aim at Tauke Talking Points

Free Press and Public Knowledge were
quick to fire back at Verizon EVP Tom Tauke's defense of
Verizon's policy accord with Google on network neutrality.

Tauke's defense came in a speech at a tech policy forum in Aspen Monday,

where he said the principles outlined by the two companies would
fulfill President Obama's campaign promise of Internet transparency and

Verizon and Google announced two weeks agothat they had come to a policy agreement--a sort of side
agreement, since both were part of broader, FCC-hosted industry talks
about targeted legislation that could clarify the FCC's broadband
authority. Those talks broke off after the policy agreement became
public, though they have resumed under different auspices and with a few
new and different players.

In an e-mailed response Tuesday to the
Aspen speech, Free Press called Tauke "dead wrong."

"The Google-Verizon
deal contains no protections for wireless access, which accounts for
nearly one-third of all Internet connections,
giving Verizon and other ISPs the green light to block or degrade
content on their wireless networks," said Free Press research director
Derek Turner. "In addition, it would allow Internet service providers to
discriminate online by offering private Internet
services alongside those on the 'public' Internet. As a candidate,
Obama himself opposed the two-tiered Internet this proposal would

The Google/Verizon meeting of the
minds allows for managed services, which would provide prioirity service
over the non-public Internet, and would not apply most of the openness
principles to wireless, which Tauke said faced
different network management challenges and a more competitive

In a blog posting, Public Knowledge's Art Brodsky said Tauke had failed in a "valiant" attempt to "salvage" the policy deal.

"As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
has said, it's the same Internet, whether reached from a personal
computer or from a mobile phone," said Brodsky. "So, by excluding the
wireless world from even the minimal suggestions the
two big companies made, they cleave out all of the future growth in
Internet usage from wireless devices and networks.  Between the two of
them, Verizon and AT&T control about 70 percent of the wireless
market, so it's easy to see why they want the high-growth
sector to be fenced off."

Brodsky says the other big flaw in the
policy is leaving to Congress the decision on whether the FCC has
authority to implement the policies Verizon and Google suggest. "Arguing
that only Congress should decide something is
the refuge of large industries that know they control the votes to do
what they wish in Congress, should Congress actually get around to
acting on anything," he said.

Brodsky also took issue with Tauke's
comparison of managed services to the virtual private networks that companies
use for employee contacts and information.

"A VPN is just that - a
private network that connects all of the employees
in one enterprise," he said. "On the other hand, a public network has
different obligations to serve everyone."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.