Google on internet traffic management

Much has been written about the Google – Verizon joint policy proposal for reasonable internet traffic management practices [release from Google here, Legislative Framework Proposal here], which was really a continuation of the work identified in January in their joint letter to the FCC.

I observed that the companies appear to recognize that American consumers and the US industry are disadvantaged by not having a non-discrimination provision set out for FCC enforcement. As I have pointed out before, the US lacks an equivalent to Canada’s Section 27(2) of the Telecom Act.

Google’s position has evolved over the past two years, as it indicates in its release of the joint proposal:

we have listened to all sides of the debate, engaged in good faith with policy makers in multiple venues, and challenged each other to craft a balanced policy framework.

I looked at Google’s position in December 2008, reflecting on Google’s clarification of its evolving position.

Google had set out a position as part of the Open Internet Coalition (OIC) [comments – doc and final argument – pdf] in the CRTC’s proceeding that led to its landmark internet traffic management policy. Google’s thinking on the handling of specific types of traffic management practices is an obvious evolution.

Last year, the OIC said “the Commission should require that any application specific ITMP undergo an ex ante review of the practice against our proposed test.”

Now, Google is acknowledging that certain classes of traffic can reasonably be managed differently

Reasonable network management includes any technically sound practice … to prioritize general classes or types of Internet traffic, based on latency…

Further, it no longer calls for prior regulatory approval, instead calling for enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

In Google’s New Media submission nearly two years ago, the company referred to Canadians’ leadership in adoption of a number of internet applications (such as social networking). Has the CRTC’s global leadership in dealing with net neutrality helped influence the direction of an industry consensus for US regulatory policy? At the time, Google’s submission attracted attention from its Californistic reference to keeping the internet “awesome”.

The more significant quote in that same paragraph may have actually been the second sentence: “The Commission should resist the temptation to try to fix what is not broken.”

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