Has Google(s goog) betrayed its principles? In 2008, Google convinced the FCC to impose ‘open access’ requirements on Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) future 4G spectrum, requirements Verizon now appears to be flouting. Thanks to Google, Verizon is required by the Federal Communications to allow any non-harmful application or device onto the network, but Verizon doesn’t think that applies to the search giant’s new near-field communications (NFC) payment app, Google Wallet — at least not until technical issues are worked out. Google doesn’t seem willing to stand up to the carrier that happens to be its largest distributor of Android phones in the U.S.
Google claimed Verizon requested that it left Google Wallet off of the versions of the Galaxy Nexus, which could be a critical distinction – there’s a difference between banning and asking. Meanwhile, Verizon has explained that Wallet is not blocked, but rather turned off while Big Red and Google work on integrating it into secure hardware elements that Verizon requires in all of its phones.
Verizon could be trying to fit wallet into its future NFC payment engine, Isis, which uses SIM cards to authenticate transactions, unlike Wallet, which uses embedded security features in the phone. If that’s the case, Google could be cooperating with Verizon with the expectation that Wallet will be enabled on future Verizon phones – not just the Nexus. If that isn’t the case, though, then Google might be a backing away from the fight it started in 2008, giving in to the demands of one of its biggest customers for Android phones. It wouldn’t be the first time that Google has let its business considerations trump net neutrality principles.
What do you think? Should Google challenge Verizon, invoking the open access principles it fought so hard for in 2008? Or should it honor its customer’s request and continue to work with Verizon behind the scenes to get Wallet implemented? This is a simple three-question poll, but the issue is obviously nuanced, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.