Google defends net neutrality plan, claims it's not about Android

Google, stung by criticisms of the net neutrality policy framework it proposed Monday with Verizon (NYSE:VZ), defended the plan and said it had not "sold out" by exempting wireless networks from the proposal. Furthermore, the company argued in a blog post that the plan is not about protecting Google's Android relationship with Verizon Wireless. The search giant's defense was, in turn, criticized by many commentators across the Web.

In a post on the company's public policy blog, Richard Whitt, Google's Washington telecom and media counsel, described several "myths" he said needed to be dispelled about the proposal. He wrote that although Google has been a vocal proponent of net neutrality, "given political realities" the company decided to forge a solution with Verizon "that locks in key enforceable protections for consumers," which he said is "preferable to no protection at all."

Critics of Google's plan--mainly in the public-interest community but also tech bloggers and others--have said the carve-outs for wireless and managed services are inexcusable given Google's past support for broad-based net neutrality protections. Whitt said the wireless market is more competitive than the wireline broadband market, and that wireless carriers are constrained by spectrum limitations, meaning that carriers need to manage their networks more actively. Additionally, he said the proposal calls for carriers to be transparent about how they manage their networks. He said Congress could always step in and add more protections for wireless networks.

Critics took issue with Google's defense, arguing that it glossed over the main points of contention, including the exemption for wireless networks.

Google also argued its policy proposal was not about Android. Whitt repeated what both Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg said Monday: The pact is not a business deal.

Verizon Wireless has been one of Android's strongest carrier proponents, pushing devices from the likes of Motorola (NYSE:MOT), HTC and others. Android has grown enormously during the past year; according to research firm Gartner, it captured 17.2 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter, up from 9.6 percent in the first quarter and 1.8 percent in the year-ago period.

For more:
- see this Google public policy blog post
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this All Things D post
- see this GigaOM post
- see this FT article
- see this DSL Reports post

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