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Google, Verizon Make Net Neutrality Deal

By Kelly Teal
August 04, 2010 - News

Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. have reached their own Net neutrality pact, according to Bloomberg, and public interest groups are not pleased.

Bloomberg said late Wednesday that Verizon has agreed not to selectively slow Internet content on its DSL and fiber networks; the deal does not apply to the operator’s wireless services.

Neither company would discuss the Bloomberg article with other outlets. An announcement is expected from Google and Verizon within a few days.

The news comes as the FCC has spent weeks meeting with Verizon, Google, AT&T Inc., Comcast and others to talk about how to preserve an open Internet while also looking out for businesses’ interests. Genachowski has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, taking public comments on whether and how to regulate Net neutrality. One way that might happen is for the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications, rather than information, service. That would once again subject high-speed Internet access to government oversight, much to carriers’ chagrin.

Verizon and Google once stood at odds over Net neutrality but have been discussing broadband policy with one another for about 10 months. That the two companies have reached a private accord angers Public Knowledge and Free Press, organizations that long have scrutinized operators’ involvement in the Net neutrality debate.

“The point of a network neutrality rule is to prevent big companies from dividing the Internet between them," said Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge. “We do not need rules to protect Google and Verizon, but we need a rule to protect the customers of Google and Verizon and the competitors of Google and Verizon."

Josh Silver, president and CEO of Free Press, agreed.

“If reports are accurate, such a deal would effectively create two Internets where application and content innovators have to ask Verizon and Google for permission to reach mobile Internet customers," said Silver. “Such a deal would make it more difficult for independent and diverse speakers to reach a broad audience and diminish the value of the mobile Internet as a new marketplace for ideas. It would mean that mobile consumers would no longer be able to access the same websites, applications and software as anyone else on the Internet."

It’s not clear how the purported Verizon-Google agreement will impact the ongoing Net neutrality talks at the FCC.

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