Free Press, Public Knowledge Take Aim At Tauke Talking Points

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Free Press and Public Knowledge were quick to fire back at Verizon executive 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, when he said the principles outlined by the two companies would fulfill the president's campaign promise of Internet transparency and nondiscrimination.
Verizon and Google two weeks ago announced they had come to a policy agreement, a sort of a side agreement since both were part of broader, FCC-hosted industry talks about targeted legislation that could clarify the agency'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 create."

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

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," wrote 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 said 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," according to Brodsky.

He also took issue with Tauke's comparison of managed services to the virtual private networks companies use for employee conatacts 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."

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