Verizon and Google close to scrapping net neutrality

Verizon is reportedly close to tying up a deal with Google, which it claims could bring an end to net neutrality, a source has told the Associated Press.

If the the deal, which has been discussed for around 10 months, goes ahead it will mean that Verizon and potentially other companies will be able to decide the order and the speed of which online content is delivered to wireless and broadband users.

According to the source, the deal will form the basis of new legislation and will be supported by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has long been it talks with major internet companies and mobile and broadband service providers on deciding the future of online media content.

The deal would work by giving some customers priority traffic. For example, according to The Guardian, YouTube, owned by Google, would pay a charge to an internet service provider (ISP) in return for its content being fast-tracked to consumers.

The catch is, internet users would have to pay more for premium services from ISPs looking to make a profit on expensive investments in broadband networks.

Speaking at the same press conference, where he announced the closing of Google’s Wave service, Eric Schmidt, Google chairman and chief executive, said: “I don’t want to announce things we haven’t announced yet.

 “We have been talking to Verizon for a long time about trying to get an agreement on what the definition of net neutrality is.”

He said people got confused over the term “net neutrality” and wanted to makes sure that everyone understood what it meant – through the Google Gospel, of course:

“What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favour of another. It’s OK to discriminate across different types…There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy…and that’s really an FCC issue not a Google issue.”

*Update Cub tech reporter Josh Halliday at The Guardian has said that, after talking to Google, it says reports are “Quite simply wrong”.