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Live Blogging The Google-Verizon Net Neutrality Press Conference

Google and Verizon have announced that they’ll be hosting a conference call today at 10:30 AM Pacific Time. Topic? Not said, but probably related to the rumor last week that the two companies have cut a deal to ensure Google’s content has preferential treatment in Verizon’s network, something that made many wonder if Google’s abandoned its commitment to net neutrality.

I’ll be live blogging the call. Both companies also will be posting statements on their blogs 5 minutes before it begins, as covered in the announcement below:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will host a conference call with media this afternoon at 1:30pm Eastern.

A preview of their announcement will be posted on both the Google and Verizon public policy blogs at 1:25pm Eastern. You may find the statement of principles and our joint filing to the FCC earlier this year helpful.

Stay tuned. Also see related coverage starting now and which will continue to develop after the call at Techmeme.

It’s 10:31 AM and no conference yet. Just, perhaps, the worst conference call music ever. Imagine a harp in the 16th century….

See, it’s all proof that Google will get no favoritism! Neither has either company posted their promised statements. In fact, Verizon’s blog appears to have crashed, probably due to many constantly reloading it for news. Tap, tap, tap.

And we’re starting! Eric says thanks for being on the call. Lots of time talking with Verizon, talking ways to find common ground on an open internet. Want to set aside the debate. Recognize we’re all dependent on each other. Google needs the networks. Providers need content. “We hope this is a next step.” Move the debate forward.

Open internet helps the “next Google” get started. They need an open internet, leads to innovation, vibrant and competitive market.

Read a lot in press, almost all was wrong. And here’s the announcement now up that I can read, A joint policy proposal for an open Internet.

Proposal to make new and enforcement able provision for discrimination of content. He’s big on the enforceable. Paid prioritization would violate the rules. Transparency provision, consumers would know exactly what’s going on, applicable to both wired and wireless.

Copying and pasting the seven principles from the statement above:

First, both companies have long been proponents of the FCC’s current wireline broadband openness principles, which ensure that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and can use what applications, services, and devices they choose. The enforceability of those principles was called into serious question by the recent Comcast court decision. Our proposal would now make those principles fully enforceable at the FCC.

Second, we agree that in addition to these existing principles there should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition.

Importantly, this new nondiscrimination principle includes a presumption against prioritization of Internet traffic – including paid prioritization. So, in addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.

Third, it’s important that the consumer be fully informed about their Internet experiences. Our proposal would create enforceable transparency rules, for both wireline and wireless services. Broadband providers would be required to give consumers clear, understandable information about the services they offer and their capabilities. Broadband providers would also provide to application and content providers information about network management practices and any other information they need to ensure that they can reach consumers.

Fourth, because of the confusion about the FCC’s authority following the Comcast court decision, our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority in the broadband space. In addition to creating enforceable consumer protection and nondiscrimination standards that go beyond the FCC’s preexisting consumer safeguards, the proposal also provides for a new enforcement mechanism for the FCC to use. Specifically, the FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. The FCC could move swiftly to stop a practice that violates these safeguards, and it could impose a penalty of up to $2 million on bad actors.

Fifth, we want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon’s FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.

Sixth, we both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement. In addition, the Government Accountability Office would be required to report to Congress annually on developments in the wireless broadband marketplace, and whether or not current policies are working to protect consumers.

Seventh, and finally, we strongly believe that it is in the national interest for all Americans to have broadband access to the Internet. Therefore, we support reform of the Federal Universal Service Fund, so that it is focused on deploying broadband in areas where it is not now available.

Back to call comments. Ivan Seidenberg chair and CEO of Verizon talking now. Want a great broadband infrastructure for the country. Want to allow providers ability to offer additional services. (Um, so is there going to be a fully equal internet that’s guaranteed, then an internet that’s more equal for others?).

Why now? Why Google? There’s been so much discussion and interest in this internet issue, this debate has been somewhat hijacked by issues that are not reflective of what the company is doing.

Question Time.

On 5th principle, what’s it mean? Could Google on FiOS by capacity to offer YouTube at a better quality or price?

Ivan: I think the answer is no. No paid prioritization of any traffic over the internet. But other services, if Google wants to bundled a new service with different features, that would be something that would be permitted. But not on the public interenet.

Eric: Ivan said it exactly correctly, it wouldn’t be allowed.

Ivan: There could be additional services that other people would offer. They could be different than the internet. They couldn’t be a workaround.

Eric: Stresses that Google would not do something off the public internet. “We like it.”

Next question, didn’t catch it, sorry. Going to responses:

Ivan: We could not degrade at all under this.

Eric: There’s some concern there would be investment away from the public internet. That wouldn’t happen. Proposal wouldn’t allow it. And they have incentive to support the public web, because that’s what they want. Stresses things like YouTube will always be in the public internet.

Next question. Run this by FTC or other lawmakers and other support have for this? Also can you confirm if you have a business arrangement lurking behind this.

Eric: There were “false, misleading and not correct” reports but no business relationship on net neutrality. Ivan says same. That suggests the New York Times that sparked this call with its reports is way off base. See the past drama here, the reaction to this New York Times story. The story said:

Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

To date, the New York Times has stood by that story and another follow-up it published, and other media outlets independently reported the same.

Eric: “We enjoy August drama” but this is not our drama moment.

Question from me, if Ivan can explain more about what this alternative internet is that doesn’t need to follow these new rules and why not. And for Eric to reconfirm yet again Google’s not going to use it.

Eric: “We love the internet” and indulges me in saying now for at least the third time Google’s to stay on the internet.

Ivan: Says he’s not said “alternative internet.” Other systems could be built. We get up today and offer a very good internet service and a FiOS TV system. Want to make sure this types of things can work.

Another question on the alternative systems.

Ivan: You think people want 3D over the interent?

Questioner, (Erick Schoenfeld from TechCrunch), it could be.

Ivan: We’re going to keep feeding the internet “cookie monster” and all we ask is that if we agree to do that, we can keep doing things like FiOS that other people are able to offer. It’s not that difficult.

And that’s the call. Again, see Techmeme for related discussion and analysis. Because oh yes, there’s gong to be plenty of that.

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