I can read the statement two ways.
First, they propose an Open Internet [1. Remember that the Internet is the underlying transport that supports email, web, video and many other services, so it’s not just web sites that we’re talking about here.] with all traffic being carried with the same priority regardless of content or purpose. That’s good, and it’s what we want. And if you’re just thinking about the next few years, this is all well and good.
At the same time, they propose that services that might be developed in the future not be subject to neutrality rules, and that they may be offered as premium services.
Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon’s FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services.
This means that services that would be quite distinct from what we know as Internet services today could be offered for a price and prioritized, with access being limited in any way the developer wishes to. Naïvely, I’d say this looks fine on the surface of it because we’d still have the Internet to rely on.
Um…but, putting my analytical hat on, I’d say companies could develop these kinds of services and then “neglect” the traditional Internet, or essentially make the Internet look so bad by comparison (through marketing and promotion of new services), or argue that it’s such a cost sink that it would be left behind in favor of the new services. Services that we’d all have to pay more for[2. Kind of like Apple has (perhaps unintentionally) crippled the old iPhone 3G (most of which are less than a year old) by loading a new operating system onto the phone that makes it function poorly, suggesting that maybe they want you to “buy a new phone.” This may have been accidental, but it might as well have been intentional since it put thousands of phones into a limbo land where they barely function any more. Read about unusable iPhone 3G’s and why this is so perplexing for iPhone users]. (Like data on our mobile phones, which you’d think would be cheap by now, but seems to be getting more and more expensive all the time?) The “Internet” could end up frozen in time, carrying only the services it carries now, and eventually choked off through neglect.
So, I see the Verizon-Google proposal as trying to appear to satisfy everyone, but I do not think it really serves the ideal of open communication into the unending future—it just proposes neutrality for the old-fashioned Internet as long as it continues to exist, and after that it becomes just another economic game. What would be far more valuable would be a clear statement that values a level playing field for human communication, which is what the Internet ideally serves.