Digital Insights

Google Denies Anti-Net Neutrality Deal With Verizon


Published: August 5, 2010

Google denied it’s in talks with Verizon to create a tiered structure that would put the search engine’s content over other websites.

Google And Verizon Not Against Net Neutrality

The rumor first broke by the New York Times (via: Gizmodo) which reported Google and Verizon were inking a deal that would challenge net neutrality ideals. According to the NY Time’s source, content delivered by Google would be delivered faster and favored over its competitors thanks to a paid deal with Verizon. Such an agreement goes against the fragile ideals of net neutrality which treats all data downloaded or uploaded to the Internet as equal bits. The FCC has come out as a proponent of net neutrality which would prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from creating a tiered data plan allowing you to only visit websites that paid up or charge you additional fees to receive faster service from the same website. The potential of such an agreement goes against both company’s ideals as Google has been a vocal critic of those who throttle data and Verizon has been a staunch defender of net neutrality. However, Google has come out to vehemently deny any rumors it’s in talks with Verizon over such an agreement via its public policy Twitter account:

@NYTimes is wrong. We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.”

Google reiterated its stance in the following statement:

“The New York Times 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.”

What Is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that data should be delivered equally and not favored over other sources. However, some people are against those ideals, the most prominent being Comcast who has come under major criticism for throttling data downloaded by their customers to manage the stability of its network. While the obvious solution would’ve been to channel money in to improving the quality of service, sadly its easier to ensure a quality experience by restricting data heavy users. But there are more apocalyptic, doomsday like scenarios associated with critics opposing net neutrality.

Google Promoting YouTube Over Others

Internet Service Providers could charge per gigabyte downloaded on an astronomical scale, restrict you to visiting websites that have paid them and slowing down data delivered by any service that directly competes with them (i.e. YouTube loading at a snail’s pace to entice you towards an ISP’s video on demand offerings). Of course Google would be paying a hefty sum to direct a massive amount of data over smaller video sharing websites it would provoke a backlash towards SEO. Since an ISP would pick and choose which sites it would feature determined on payments, websites that rely on SEO would be rendered useless if they don’t have the cash to pay out to an ISP for a featured spot in its package. No longer would Google comb the Internet for content thats relevant and interesting but content deemed profitable would be chosen on cash alone.

It’s also a grey area the FCC has fought to protect but due to recent legal action, the agency has less power than it did before. In April, a Federal court of appeals announced its decision to grant a petition of review for Comcast who was challenged by the FCC for data throttling. The FCC could not enforce the concept of net neutrality on Comcast according to the court. The case was a huge victory for its opponents and an even bigger one for the Internet service provider which was slowing down the bandwidth of users who were using p2p file-sharing programs.


Google’s View On What Net Neutrality Means

However, Google has been discussing net neutrality with Verizon but not on the apocalyptic scale many are thinking. Late Wednesday, Eric Schmidt spoke at the Techonomy conference in Tahoe, California giving some insight in to the inner workings of Google, discussed Google Wave, the Verizon deal and more importantly, net neutrality.

“We have been talking to Verizon for a long time about trying to get an agreement on the definition of what net neutrality is. We’re trying to find solutions that bridge between the hardcore net neutrality view and the telecom view. I want to be clear what we mean by net neutrality. What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. But it’s OK to discriminate across different types, so you could prioritize voice over video, and there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue. The issues of wireless vs. wireline get very messy because of the issue of Type I vs Type II regulation and that is an FCC issue not a Google issue.”

Gigaom has the complete 40 minute presentation available.

Any talks between Verizon and Google in any form will carry some unease as the the search engine’s mobile operating system, Android is available on phones sold by Verizon. Compromising net neutrality would directly benefit Google in delivering YouTube content much faster and would give the company an unfair advantage over other mobile operating systems sold on phones by Verizon. However, this is only a doomsday-like scenario that won’t come to fruition.


Google and Verizon’s agreement to define net neutrality will have a big impact: it could provide a standard to define what is discriminatory and what isn’t in regards to delivery content. It is very important to note that Google had not discussed a content delivery system that would favor YouTube or other video hosting websites such as Vimeo and Hulu. However, it could also give some of the cable companies and net neutrality detractors more power to enable data throttling all in the name of maintaining network quality if a clear set of standards are created. It will be interesting to see how Google, Verizon and other major backers come together to help define this fragile concept and hopefully empower it with some legal strength from the FCC. By defining what net neutrality exactly is, courts and the government will have a clearer view on an already grey area.


What we’d like to hear, how would you react to your internet service provider enacting a tiered structure for which websites you can visit much like your cable companies offers different packages of channels.



logged in to post a comment.