Google and Verizon to Compromise Net Neutrality?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Google and Verizon are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly — if the content’s creators are willing to pay, reports the NY Times.

But Google’s Twitter feed says the NY Times is wrong. “We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet”. Verizon also denied any anti-net neutrality plans.

According to C/Net, Verizon would agree not to selectively throttle Internet traffic through its pipes. That would not, however, apply to data traveling over its wireless network for mobile phones, the report says.

According to the Washington Post an agreement is expected to be announced within days. Google and Verizon’s agreement could prevent Verizon from offering prioritization on its DSL and fiber networks, but that wouldn’t apply to mobile phones, the sources said.

If completed, the agreement would apparently allow Verizon to manage wireless broadband as a tiered cable service. Such an agreement could overthrow net neutrality policies where no form of content is favored over another. With network neutrality, all Internet traffic is treated equally, no matter what speed of service you subscribe to.

Many content providers — like Amazon, eBay and Skype — prefer no favoritism on the Internet. Amazon, for example, is worried that Google and Verizon will impede their access to consumers. The Open Internet Coalition represents eBay, Facebook, TiVO, Twitter, and Sony. The ACLU and American Library Association also belong to the consortium, as do many public interest groups.

Google would (apparently) not challenge the higher fees required to view YouTube. Video is expected to dominate the capacity of “4G” networks and Google’s Android operating system powers many Verizon wireless phones. Google derives a significant revenue from embedded advertising.

In April, a federal appeals court ruled the FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality. Since then the agency has been trying to find a way to regulate broadband delivery, and that effort has been the subject of a series of private meetings at the agency’s headquarters in recent weeks.

At the meetings, officials from the nation’s biggest Internet service and content providers, including Google and Verizon, have tried to reach a consensus on how broadband Internet service should be regulated in light of the decision. Those meetings continued this week, apart from the talks between Google and Verizon.

“It is the first step in what would amount to the slow asphyxiation of network neutrality,” says Om Malik.

“What is good for Google and Verizon is not necessarily good for innovation and competition on the Internet,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president of the Media Access Project. Public Knowledge co-founder Gigi Sohn said a deal between Google and Verizon “should be considered meaningless” because it is not binding for either company and should not be taken as a template for congressional action.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at 7:06 am .

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