Corporate Realignment Spells Coming Network Neutrality Fight?Submitted Mon Dec 15 2008 00:22:00 GMT-0500 (EST) by Jason Z.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google -- whose lobbying heft has been instrumental for network neutrality regulatory grapplings so far, is quietly seeking its own accommodations with tiered service.
And they're not the only ones.
In the two years since Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other Internet companies lined up in favor of network neutrality, the landscape has changed. The Internet companies have formed partnerships with phone and cable companies, making them more dependent on one another.
Microsoft, which appealed to Congress to save network neutrality just two years ago, has changed its position completely. "Network neutrality is a policy avenue the company is no longer pursuing," Microsoft said in a statement. The Redmond, Wash., software giant now favors legislation to allow network operators to offer different tiers of service to content companies.
Microsoft has a deal to provide software for AT&T's Internet television service. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment whether this arrangement affected the company's position on network neutrality.
Amazon's popular digital-reading device, called the Kindle, offers a dedicated, faster download service, an arrangement Amazon has with Sprint. That has prompted questions in the blogosphere about whether the service violates network neutrality.
"Amazon continues to support adoption of net neutrality rules to protect the longstanding, fundamental openness of the Internet," Amazon said in a statement. It declined to elaborate on its Kindle arrangement.
Amazon had withdrawn from the coalition of companies supporting net neutrality, but it recently was listed once again on the group's Web site. It declined to comment on whether carriers should be allowed to prioritize traffic.
Yahoo now has a digital subscriber-line partnership with AT&T. Some have speculated that the deal has caused Yahoo to go silent on the network-neutrality issue.
Of course, we've got an incoming president who's staked out a pro-network neutrality position.
Richard Whitt, Google's head of public affairs ... says he's unsure how committed President-elect Obama will remain to the principle [of network neutrality].
"If you look at his plans," says Mr. Whitt, "they are much less specific than they were before."
(Via the foul-mouthed Atrios.)