Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Google's Vint Cerf on Net Neutrality - Good for the Rich Content Providers?

TechCrunch article "Google’s Top Innovators On The Cloud, Net Neutrality, And More" (here) by Jason Kincaid covers the "Google’s Innovators" panel in  Atmoshpere 2010 conference. One of the discussion items was Net Neutrality, and the answer by Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist is interesting.

The first part (quoted below) is about what Google likes and does not like in Net Neutrality. It has lots of ambiguous language:
  • Who is "you" in "you have to pay more"? (the content provider or subscriber?)
  • What is "companies providing services will have equal opportunity" - if they pay the carriers? After all he agrees that "not all packets should be treated equally". 

During the years, Mr. Ceft had different views on Net Neutrality. While the Google's traditional position was in favor of Net Neutrality, at least once he was against the regulation - see  "Vint Cerf speaks out on net neutrality" (from November 2005 - here) saying that "My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it".

However, a year later Mr. Ceft was back on tracks - i.e. in favor of Net Neutrality (here) and was consistent since then. Google itself changed its position recently - see "More Signs for Net Neutrality Piece - Google and Verizon Joint Appeal to the FCC" - here.

So - has Google found THE solution - Net Neutrality should be based on simple economic rules of supply and demand?

Q: We’ve seen some recent changes with respect to network neutrality. What’s your take?

Vint: In a sense we are very dependent on carriers all around the world. With regard to net neutrality, the term has been vastly distorted. Our concern has been with anti-competitive behavior. Our biggest concerns is not that all packets be treated identically, and it’s not that you have to pay more for certain packets. It’s to ensure that there is a level playing field. So companies providing services will have equal opportunity to allow users to reach the product. If you’re in the business of delivering video for a fee, and were also supplying broadband access, it’s possible you might limit access to a competitor’s video site. With regard to the most recent decision, the way I’ve interpreted this is that the Title I place where the Internet is located for regulatory purposes, didn’t give FCC authority. The side effect of that may be to drive the FCC to relabel Internet service into Title II. As an engineer I’ve felt that the Internet does have a communications component, which should be equally accessible to everyone. in the past when Internet was in Title II, the common carriage rules applied. When you offered access to communications services you had to do it on an equal basis to everyone. I think that a return to that should not be accompanied to all the restrictions of Title II (telephony related things).

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