Over at AOL News, Reason Associate Editor Peter Suderman takes a look at the joint Google-Verizon Net neutrality proposal, the FCC's current position of weakness, and how both could shape the future of the Net:
Earlier this week, longtime net neutrality supporter Google teamed up with longtime net neutrality opponent Verizon to offer a proposed framework for the regulation of the Internet. The proposal would prohibit Internet service providers from discriminating on wireline networks—like cable or DSL—but would also let ISPs charge some Web content providers more for speedier service. In addition, it would let wireless networks—such as those that serve iPhones and BlackBerrys—operate outside of neutrality rules.
Both Google and Verizon have business interests that are served by the deal. But the proposal also serves as a way for two major industry players to take the lead at a moment when the Federal Communications Commission is faltering. Will the proposal allow both companies to hurdle the agency's intended regulatory barriers? Perhaps. But the real question is whether the FCC should be involved at all.
The Google-Verizon proposal comes at a time when, at least on Internet policy, the FCC looks increasingly weak. In theory, the FCC is charged with overseeing the domestic network of data-carrying landlines and wireless signals that make up the Internet. But many of its recent regulatory plans have been foiled. Now, despite attempts at compromise, it's having trouble finding backers for its agenda.