Despite differences on some other important issues, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, agree on some matters related to the Federal Communications Commission’s “National Broadband Plan.”
In an opinion piece authored for the Wall Street Journal, the two executives say three plan elements are praiseworthy.
Not surprisingly, both agree on the plan’s nod to health-care information technology, education and job training, and a smart electricity grid.
All of those initiatives will tend to create opportunities for both companies.
Both agree on spurring the highest-quality broadband possible, dependent on private investment.
Both say they agree on the importance of making high-speed Internet connections available to all Americans.
The Internet has thrived in an environment of minimal regulation, they say. “While our two companies don’t agree on every issue, we do agree generally as a matter of policy that the framework of minimal government involvement should continue,” Schmidt and Seidenberg say.
The FCC underscores the importance of creating the right climate for private investment and market-driven innovation to advance broadband. That’s the right approach and why we are encouraged to see the FCC’s plan, they say.
You might argue all of these are “motherhood and apple pie” sorts of issues, which is true. But it might be significant that both can agree to support, in principle, “minimal government involvement.”
That doesn’t mean the two firms agree on key network neutrality principles or rules. But it does seem to signal a willingness to consider approaches which allow markets to sort out issues.
As typically is the case in communications regulation, regulators will weigh what is possible and prudent, given the different interests, and take those interests into account, crafting solutions that balance the various interests, giving each side something important, while neither side gets all its wants.
That is likely to be case for network neutrality as well.