Yesterday, Google and Verizon, announced a private agreement between the two internet powerhouses that they believe should serve as a framework for U.S. public policy on net neutrality. The announcement comes on the heels of reports that FCC talks with internet stakeholders recently collapsed.
The joint Google and Verizon agreement does promise equal access to the current internet and proposes punishment for ISPs that restrict or "throttle" certain services. But the pair would also create a "fast lane" for premium content - presumably paid services that require heavy bandwidth. The proposal seems reasonable - YouTube, email and everything we're used to continues unrestricted without being bogged down - until you remember that not long ago YouTube itself was considered a bandwidth hog.
If the FCC does not establish clear rules on net neutrality without "fast lane" exemptions , which lane will music tech innovators be allowed to travel in?
“There is also some question about how the so-called ‘public internet’ - described in today’s Verizon-Google conference call - would continue to grow and develop alongside the ‘additional online services’ hinted at in the proposal," says Casey Rae-Hunter, Communications Director and Policy Strategist for Future of Music Coalition. “Today’s events serve to further highlight the need for an appropriate regulatory framework that would clarify what is and isn’t acceptable online. We continue to look forward to the establishment of clear, enforceable rules to preserve the open internet as a crucial platform for musicians.”
Doubt stifles innovation, and that - almost as much as control of the internet - is the unfortunate consequence if the Google and Verizon proposal becomes a reality.