Google and Verizon and the future of the web

Screenshot of Google homepage

Google is a company that's full of mysteries. How does their page ranking system work? What will they turn YouTube into? Why did anyone think Wave would catch on? And most recently, what is their role in the future of net neutrality?

On Monday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt held a joint conference call with Verizon CEO Ivan Seiderberg to announce a new public policy statement about the future of the web. It reaffirmed both companies' support for an open web but it also left a little wiggle room in the form of the fifth of seven points being made:

Fifth, we want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don't interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.

Essentially, the companies are saying that new forms of content may require a different approach to distribution and that the old open internet model may no longer apply. They used the somewhat bizarre example of 3D opera.

We hear excerpts of Schmidt and Seidenberg's from the press conference. We also talk to Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Networking News about what this policy proposal, which both companies made sure to say is just an idea that they wish to float, would mean to the internet of tomorrow.

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