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Vint Cerf comments on Google’s Net Neutrality proposal

‘The Father of the Internet” and Google Internet Evangelist has been an outspoken proponent of Net Neutrality in the past.

Update: Cerf has expanded his opinion in an interview here.

Vint Cerf is often called the “Father of the Internet” because of his groudbreaking work on the TCP/IP protocol and his founding and becoming the chairman of  ICANN.  Cerf now works at Google as a VP and Chief Internet Evangelist.

In 2005, Google posted a newly-hired Cerf’s opposition to the anti-Net Neutrality legislation that was being debated in Congress. (he couldn’t testify  because he was busy being honored by the President for his role in creating the Internet). He said:

Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great deal of control over any applications placed on the network.

As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive. Telephone companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should not dictate what people can do online.

Today he laid out his feelings on the compromise that Google (GOOG) has struck with Verizon(VZ).  In an email he wrote:

The proposal from Verizon and Google, if enacted into law, would place on the books the recognition that discrimination between Internet application providers by broadband Internet Service Providers is not permitted. The proposal also gives recognition to the need for reasonable operational network practices (especially by Internet Service Providers).

The wireless provisions recognize the more competitive wireless marketplace.

From this, it seems he’s willing to delineate the “wireless Internet” as something wholly different and more competitive than traditional broadband.

That’s something that is hard to get my head around. I’m not so sure the wireless marketplace is much more competitive than the wired version. I count four wireless providers: AT&T (T), Verizon, Sprint (S) and T-Mobile. Verizon, AT&T, Optimum, Time Warner (TWC), Comcast (CMCSA) and others offer broadband wireless.

In fact, data today shows that the US wireless market is heading towards a duopoly.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T together accounted for 75 percent of Q2’s data revenue growth–the two rivals now represent 70 percent of all U.S. mobile data revenues, as well as 62 percent of the nationwide subscriber base.