The New York Times is reporting that Verizon and Google are engaged in talks that would see the search providerâ€™s properties purchase access priority on Verizonâ€™s internet services.Â The agreement is slated to be announced as soon as next week, according to sources quoted by the paper.Â In exchange for access priority, Google would agree not to challenge how the telecom company and cellular service provider manages its networks in terms of internet access.
The ramifications of such an agreement could have lasting consequences regarding the net neutrality debate, as Google has been a staunch supporter of the current FCC administrationâ€™s efforts to enforce the idea of net neutrality through the Comcast-BitTorrent decision in 2008 which was overturned in April, and through the preliminary formulation of an official policy on net neutrality in October of last year, with both Verizon and Google CEOs reaching a slight consensus.
Such an agreement could also lead to higher costs for broadband service and the implementation of a tiered broadband service instead of allowing content regardless of priority, raising the ire of consumer advocates who fear excessive control of access.Â Another factor concerns how lawmakers could view the decision as Congress and other internet service providers are and have been against the idea of net neutrality, seeing it as another form of costly and unnecessary government regulation.
The FCC is currently holding a series of private meetings with the above companies on the best way to regulate internet access in light of Aprilâ€™s decision, with Google and Verizon holding its negotiations outside of the FCC meetings.Â Spokespersons for Google and the FCC have not officially commented on either issue, while Verizon spokespersons have confirmed the negotiations with the FCC as ongoing and declining to comment on other negotiations.
Update: Google spokesperson Mistique Cano has released the following statement, rejecting the New York Times report wholesale:
“The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet.”
Update 2: Verizon has released its own statement on the initial New York Times report, and also refutes it completely:
“The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.”
Update 3: While Verizon and Google have refuted the New York Times report, a report filed by the Wall Street Journal on the talks has yet to be refuted by either company as it goes into detail regarding the network access priorityÂ negotiations. The report mentions that the talks are centering on codifying the FCC’s net neutrality principles while allowing forÂ service providers to offer priority accessÂ to companies that pay for the access.Â The report alsoÂ reveals that the talks have been ongoing for the past 10 months while stating that an announcement could be made as soon as tomorrow and the agreement would not affect cellular networks.