AT&T: Google, Verizon Net Plan ‘Reasonable’

Aug 12th, 2010 | By businessnews | Category: Business


August 11, 2010, 2:58 PM EDT




By Greg Bensinger


(Adds Facebook comment in sixth paragraph.)

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) — AT&T Inc.’s wireless chief said he largely supports a proposal from Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. for Internet regulation that would exclude mobile Web services from most oversight.

The proposal is a “reasonable framework” for the industry and demonstrates that carriers and Internet companies can reach agreements on Web policies, Ralph de la Vega said today at the Oppenheimer & Co. Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Boston.

Verizon and Google announced this week a proposal for so- called net-neutrality rules that would restrict Internet-service providers from selectively slowing content that travels over their wires. The plan, described in blog posts and a conference call with Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, wouldn’t apply those limits to Web use on mobile devices.

Google and Verizon said the mobile-Internet market is different from the wireline one because it’s more competitive and changing rapidly. Some groups, such as the Washington-based non-profit Free Press, said the approach would let Verizon and other carriers discriminate against certain traffic, possibly favoring their own services.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission met last week with Dallas-based AT&T, Verizon, Google, Luxembourg-based Skype Technologies SA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association in an effort to reach a framework for Internet regulation.

Facebook’s Qualms

Facebook Inc. said today it had reservations about granting special rules for wireless networks. “Facebook continues to support principles of net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks,” Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for the Palo Alto, California-based company, said in an e-mail.

An agreement from the FCC on net neutrality “is unlikely this year and is less likely to occur at all following the Verizon-Google proposal,” Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Spencer Wang said in a research note today. He said a legislative solution is the most likely outcome.

De la Vega declined to say how he thought the FCC would ultimately rule on Web regulation.

Verizon is based in New York and Google is based in Mountain View, California.

–With assistance from Amy Thomson in New York, Todd Shields in Washington and Brian Womack in San Francisco. Editors: Peter Elstrom, Ville Heiskanen

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Bensinger in New York at gbensinger1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net



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