UPDATE:Google Denies Net Neutrality Deal with Verizon
Google has publically denied the reports that the search giant was seeking an agreement with Verizon Wireless that was likely to have put pressure on the net neutrality status quo.
A Google spokesperson spoke with the Guardian today and refuted the assertion, saying, “We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain committed as we always have been to an open market.”
Verizon, too, has postured against the statements, saying they desired the incorporation of FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation.
Google and Verizon are nearing an agreement that will allow some Internet content providers to have priority over others if they are willing to a pay Verizon a higher rate.
For example, Amazon could potentially pay for premium Internet service, which would allow its content to be generated faster on the Web than, say, a blogger who could not afford to pay.
The negotiations between Google and Verizon, which are symbiotic stakeholders because of the Android operating system, could be the forerunner for what is being called a “tiered Internet system,” which operates much like cable television and charges higher prices for premium service.
Under the new agreement, Verizon would be free to regulate its service as it sees fit, without interference from Google, which has until now been a net neutrality advocate.
This diverges from the current mandate of net neutrality, a standard that heralds equal access to all content providers.
Under net neutrality, an individual blog, a corporate Web site and more popular Web sites, such as Amazon or Youtube, all open at the same speed when their respective URL’s are punched in.
The new paradigm, being presaged now by Google and Verizon’s negotiations, would create a fast lane and a slow lane for Internet usage, where the fast lane is reserved for the fee-payers and the slow lane is filled with those unwilling or unable to afford the premium.
Advocates for the tiered system—cable and telephone companies who own broadband—say they need the freedom to manage their systems to ensure the best experience for their customers. This entails, according to the argument, the slowing of some traffic, such as the individual blogger or e-mailer, so that more important traffic can be delivered at greater speeds. In Verizon’s case, phone calls.
Though Verizon and Google only represent two companies in the ISP and content milieu, people involved in the negotiations said their agreement could provide the framework for broader negotiations currently taking place between the Federal Communication Commission and ISP’s.
The F.C.C. wants wider control of broadband, arguing that ceding to much control to the cable companies will result in them favoring some online content and services over others.
AT&T, Verizon and other broadband providers are disinclined to be placed under the rule of the F.C.C. especially when the prospect of premium fees lends itself to greater profits.
On the one hand, should the tiered system come to fruition, consumers are likely to see higher prices for premium Internet speeds. On the other, certain services, like phone calls or Youtube, may become faster and more reliable.