The New York Times reported Wednesday that Google and Verizon were close to reaching an agreement on prioritized services that had the potential to end - or at least seriously undermine - net neutrality. Writer Edward Wyatt explained:
[C]harges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation's leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers...
InfoWorld's Jeremy Kirk says the agreement would "lay out principles around net neutrality." It would not allow service providers to block or slow down content that uses a lot of bandwidth, but it would allow providers to give content priority if creators paid for it.
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But isn't giving priority to certain content going to slow down other types of content? The effect is the same, no matter how the principles are explained. Net neutrality is the idea that no form of content should be favored over another, or that no form of content should be discriminated against.
Thus, approval of the agreement would indeed mean an end to Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski's quest to adopt net neutrality rules. Instead, Internet service could be tiered, like cable television is tiered: Premium content would cost more than basic content. As a business proposition, it may make sense for the short term, but it's bad news for those who create Web content because only those with deep pockets will be able to pay for priority placement. And in the end it's bad news for customers, because we'll ultimately pay higher prices.
Google is insisting it is not in talks with Verizon to put an end to net neutrality. Computerworld points to an e-mail it received from Google spokesperson Mistique Cano. Cano wrote:
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.
Google doesn't deny participating in discussions with the FCC and Verizon, among others, concerning net neutrality issues.