Tom Tauke Monday defended the company's public policy accord with Google
on network neutrality, arguing that it was a case of "antagonists"
finding common ground. He even took a jab at Google, saying it, not wireless
carriers, was one of the ones blocking applications.
That came in a speech at
the Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum. He said that when asked several
months ago to speak, he had planned to talk about the national broadband plan,
tax policy, privacy, security and spectrum. Instead, he took on the
"elephant in the room," network neutrality, and the criticisms
of the Google public policy according, particularly its support for managed
services and its carve-out for wireless broadband from all of its openness recommendations
save for transparency.
Tauke pointed out that
the accord included signing on to the FCC's openness principles and adopting a
fifth nondiscrimination principle "is much tougher than any other
non-discrimination principle that had been put on the table publicly
But while that principle
presumes no prioritization of Internet traffic, Verizon and Google were heavily
criticized for their support of providing other services over broadband that
could be prioritized. Tauke said that reports stating the provision might
be a way for Google to prioritize its traffic were wrong, as was the suggestion
the accord was a business deal.
Google has already publicly
pledged that it is keeping its services--like YouTube--on the public Internet.
Tauke also suggested
that critics were being shortsighted. "Certainly nobody believes that the
promise of broadband is Internet access and video, which is what we have
today," he said. Among the criticisms was about providing a work-around
for streaming video services that wanted to pay for priority treatment.
Pointing out that many
businesses use virtual private networks to allow them to access benefits
and services, Tauke said consumers should not be denied the same
opportunity to access other services in addition to the Internet: "Why
should we say that this is good for businesses, but it is not good for
consumers living at home? Why would we say to the consumer living at home that
they shouldn't be able to have their heart monitored or their blood pressure
taken at home after they finish a hospital stay? Why would we say that
consumers at home should not be able to get secure connections which would
allow them to engage in a variety of activities, many of which we cannot even
The companies also got flak
for treating wireless broadband differently, but Tauke said that
was because it is different. He cited the physics of managing networks
where connections are mobile and unpredictable, where there is more competition
to provide alternatives for carriers whose policies a customer doesn't like,
and because the wireless marketplace is changing rapidly with the explosion in
Perhaps to demonstrate
that there is still some antagonist in the relationship. Tauke also said
he could not find any instance where a wireless carrier had blocked an
application in the network, but that Google had.
being blocked. You know where they are being blocked? The operating systems
developed by Apple and Google and RIM and a variety of others.... And the
operating systems in some cases even have the capability after you download an
application, zapping it out," he said. "Of course, those who operate
applications stores make decisions about what goes in and doesn't go in those
stores. So when we looked at the problem of downloading applications and
blocking them, it wasn't the network providers we were talking about, it was
these other players."
Tauke said he
recognized that the accord was not a magic bullet. "[S]ome people in the
public policy arena want all of the answers to any potential problem right
now. That isn't the way the policy process works."