Press Releases

Statement by ITIF President Rob Atkinson on Framework Agreement by Google and Verizon on Broadband and Mobile Internet Service

"ITIF applauds the effort Google and Verizon have made to find common ground and provide Congress with a starting point for updating regulatory policy for a rapidly evolving Internet.  They've framed the issues effectively and focused the discussion on the boundaries of the consensus. Some issues still need clarification and adjustment, but the companies have advanced the dialog with this constructive proposal. It's now up to Congress to take the next step.

Preserving the Internet's traditional openness without foreclosing opportunities for future enhancement is one of the critical public policy challenges of our time. It's a difficult challenge for regulators as it requires them to peer into the crystal ball in order to visualize not just how consumers perceive the Internet today, but how it may evolve in the future as new applications emerge.  The common framework offered by Google and Verizon to the Congress is very useful starting point in the ongoing discussion of the Internet’s evolution."

Analysis

"The framework is an extremely constructive step in the process that substantially clarified the FCC's role regarding the regulation of broadband and mobile Internet services.  In most respects, the framework captures the consensus that exists across the Internet ecosystem to the effect that case-by-case review of Internet business practices is preferable to overly-prescriptive rules. The agreement exempts mobile traffic management practices from most regulations, which is appropriate given the challenging nature of mobile technology and the rapid pace of change as 4G services such as LTE emerge.

The framework preserves network competition and protects consumers and innovators from undue discrimination, but also allows network operators considerable latitude to manage their networks in a way that assures the quality of the user experience. The most controversial portions of the common framework deal with complex engineering and business issues regarding services for high-priority applications.

 A new generation of applications is emerging on the Internet that will ultimately require advanced treatment by network operators. Commercial Internet users have access to a wide array of service options today that they use to ensure that their most advanced applications, such as high-definition video conferencing, receive priority over more traditional applications such as web surfing. This is a constructive practice with considerable consumer benefit when implemented properly.

The common framework does permit premium transport, but only after an unspecified rebuttal is successfully lodged. It’s more constructive to presume that such practices are permissible as long as they’re voluntary and don’t harm consumers or competition. Such details will need to be fleshed out as Congress continues its work to clarify the FCC's authority, and as the FCC