Speaking in Bulgaria, Google vice president, Internet evangelist, and co-father of the Internet Vinton Cerf said Google would pursue antitrust complaints with U.S. telecommunications companies if “something bad happens” as a result of telecommunications providers implementing tiered access schemes for data to preferentially traverse their networks.
Cerf noted that Google would be please if legislators can reach a consensus legislation mandating network neutrality, whereby all data on the Internet would be treated with equal priority at so-called best effort rates-that is, data is transmitted between providers and users to the best of the intervening networks’ capability, regardless of the nature, origin, or destination of the information.
Telecommunications companies like Verizon and the newly re-constituted AT&T have been promoting the idea of tiered access, whereby customers and information providers would pay extra for preferential, high-speed treatment for they data they transmit or choose to receive. Telecoms argue that tiered access constitutes an innovation which will enable them to build the next generations of high-speed networks, and that mandating net neutrality would be the first significant government regulation of the Internet. Consumer advocates argue tiered access will divide the Internet into slow lanes and fast lanes, make the Internet experience ripe for abuse, and ensure decent performance is available only to organizations and individuals who can pay extra to the telecom carriers, regardless of whether they actually receive service from those carriers.
In his comments Cerf indicated that if telecoms were to roll out tiered access offerings, Google would wait and see if any abuses actually occurred, rather than filing pro forma charges immediately. But if “something bad happens,” Google wouldn’t hesitate to take the case to the U.S. Justice Department.
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