Google speaks up to dispel 'myths' about proposal with Verizon

Google spoke up Thursday about its agreement with Verizon in an effort to dispel what it characterized as “myths” that have arisen regarding a proposal for net-neutrality rules unveiled this week.

In a blog post, Washington telecom and media counsel Richard Whitt took issue with the charge that Google’s business relationship with Verizon led to the agreement. Verizon has a partnership with Google to offer its Android operating system on Verizon phones. 

“This is a policy proposal — not a business deal. Of course, Google has a close business relationship with Verizon, but ultimately this proposal has nothing to do with Android,” he said.

The post represents the company's first messaging effort on a proposal it unveiled Monday. Google has faced tough criticism on the agreement from net-neutrality activists who say the framework is too weak to protect the open Internet, the goal of the proposal. Net-neutrality purists have characterized Google's stance as "evil," riffing on its corporate motto. 

In his post, Whitt names six “myths” that have come to characterize the proposal, rebutting each with “facts.”

“We don’t expect everyone to agree with every aspect of our proposal, but there has been a number of inaccuracies about it, and we do want to separate fact from fiction,” he wrote.

He argues that Google has been the leading corporate voice for net neutrality, and disputes the idea that it has sold out. He also acknowledges that “political realities” that led Google to make the agreement, which he said is not “perfect.”

“We’re not saying this solution is perfect, but we believe that a proposal that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers is preferable to no protection at all,” he said.

The post says that the Google-Verizon proposal is a step forward for net neutrality and would impose stronger regulations than have ever existed before. He notes that it would give the FCC clear authority on net-neutrality breaches.

As for the exception of wireless services to the strictest rules, he said that open-access standards that will govern for 4G networks mean that consumers “are beginning to experience open Internet wireless platforms.” (The Hill describes that argument here).

He also addressed anger over an allowance in the proposal for carriers to offer managed services.

“So, for example, broadband providers could offer a special gaming channel, or a more secure banking service, or a home health monitoring capability — so long as such offerings are separate and apart from the public Internet,” he said.

Net-neutrality purists say this could “cannibalize” the public Internet. Whitt pointed to measures in the agreement meant to limit what providers can do on this front, including by mandating that services must be “distinguishable in purpose and scope” from Internet access.