This week Google and US telecoms provider Verizon unveiled a proposal to maintain an open internet while creating room for a broadband network of premium services.

The proposal has no legal standing whatsoever, and is basically a policy paper on network neutrality for consideration by the US Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. Network neutrality is the principle that broadband providers should not be allowed to discriminate or restrict web traffic based on its content.

Regardless of the legal standing, this proposal is backed by two major technology corporations involved in the network neutrality debate. That means the proposal could influence discussions about the future of broadband internet access in the US.

So far, reaction to the proposal has been highly critical. Citizen interest group Public Knowledge said the proposal "shouldn't form the basis of legislation in Congress or of rules by the FCC" . The headline 'Google Goes Evil' lead the Huffington Post's coverage of the proposal.

FCC Commission Michael J Copps believes the Google-Verizon proposal is a call for the FCC to assert 'authority over broadband telecommunications' to protect the interests of users. While Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, told The New York Times the Google-Verizon proposal "appears to condone services that could harm consumer internet access".

There are many concerns and questions surrounding the Google-Verizon proposal. Here are five things that are top of my mind.

How would this so-called private internet work?

Verizon, and presumably other broadband providers, want the right to maintain a so-called private internet to provide new services that don't exist yet. Some examples of what private broadband services could be include health care monitoring, educational services, gaming and other forms of entertainment. This private service would be separate from the regular internet.

In theory, this sounds like a fair idea since a carrier's private network wouldn't infringe on the existing internet we have today. But how would this play out in practice?

Would Verizon, for example, be able to tell Blizzard Entertainment - the company behind online games like World of Warcraft - that its services must be on the private network because it takes up too much bandwidth on the regular onternet?

Are there other, less direct ways broadband providers could pressure online companies to move to the private network?

  1. Will the proposals make the net better or worse?
  2. Why wireless is out
  3. What happens to the regular internet?

NEXT PAGE: Why wireless is out

See also: Poll: 32 percent approve of web traffic prioritisation