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Verizon, Google make net neutrality pact, sources say

Google and Verizon have come to an agreement on how network operators can manage Web traffic, according to two sources briefed on their negotiations.

The agreement, expected to be announced within days, comes as the Federal Communications Commission tries to get major Internet content firms and network service providers to strike a deal on disputed points of so-called net neutrality rules. It's unclear how the deal will affect the direction of those discussions.

The FCC said Verizon and Google are still part of meetings between senior staff and officials at AT&T, Skype, a cable trade association and the Open Internet Coalition. Public interest groups criticized the meetings and the rumored agreement between Verizon and Google for allowing giant Internet firms to have a greater say in the future of how consumers access the Web.

Verizon wouldn't confirm that a deal was struck but said in an e-mail statement:

"We've been working with Google for 10 months to reach an agreement on broadband policy. We are currently engaged in and committed to the negotiation process led by the FCC. We are optimistic this process will reach a consensus that can maintain an open Internet and the investment and innovation required to sustain it."

Specifically, Google and Verizon's agreement could prevent Verizon from offering some prioritization to the biggest bidders who want better delivery of content on its DSL and fiber networks, according to the sources. But that wouldn’t apply to mobile phones, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the companies have not officially made their announcement.

And Verizon could offer some managed services -- better quality to some Web sites such as those offering health care services, the sources said. But some analysts speculate that managed services could also include discounted YouTube and other services to FiOs customers at better quality.

Google did not reply to a request for comment.

The rumored deal drew criticism from public interest groups, who have argued that the country's biggest Web firms and broadband service providers shouldn't have such a strong influence on how federal rules are formed on Internet access.

“The fate of the Internet is too large a matter to be decided by negotiations involving two companies, even companies as big as Verizon and Google, or even the six companies and groups engaged in other discussions at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on similar topics," said Gigi Sohn, president of public interest group Public Knowledge.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's chief of staff has orchestrated meetings with Google, AT&T, Verizon, Skype, a cable trade association and the Open Internet Coalition in hopes of presenting to Congress consensus ground rules that would prevent network operators from blocking or slowing down certain Web sites. Genachowski wants an agreement that will encourage lawmakers to introduce net neutrality legislation as the FCC struggles over its ability to regulate broadband providers.

The six officials at the FCC meetings, which continued Wednesday and will resume Thursday, are hashing out details on whether wireless phones should be included in legislation and if carriers can charge for better quality of service.

The FCC declined to comment specifically on Verizon and Google's deal, but an FCC spokesperson said: "The broad stakeholder discussions continue to actively include Google and Verizon.”

According to the sources, Verizon and Google have met separately to reach an agreement they will tout as an example of successful self-regulation. Once bitter opponents in the so-called net neutrality debate, the firms have grown closer on the issue as their business ties have also strengthened. Verizon partners with Google on their Android wireless phones.

Their actions could set a course for the FCC meetings and what ultimately the parties could present to lawmakers, analysts said.

More from Post Tech:

FCC criticized for holding 'net neutrality' talks with Internet, telecom giants

Google CEO says trying to bridge differences with Verizon

DC residents lack competitive broadband options

Intel settles antitrust case with FTC


By Cecilia Kang  |  August 4, 2010; 4:39 PM ET
Categories:  FCC , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Intel to change practices in FTC settlement
Next: FCC draws fire over closed-door meeting with Web, network giants

Comments

Google wins! This anticompetitive agreement, if it withstood antitrust scrutiny, would compel Verizon to deny services that would enable new competitors of Google. Cecilia Kang, Google's reporter at the post, is of course delighted.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | August 4, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Brett,

C'mon, give it up. Net Neutrality is a net plus for everyone except network operators. I get that you operate your own mom&pop ISP and that you want to run your network your own way.

But you, by definition, can't be the problem. When you get the likes of Verizon, Comcast, & AT&T colluding to prioritize traffic that is by definition anti-competitive and can't be good for people using the network.

Let me say this very simply:

If you have a network that is private you can do anything you want to it. As soon as you connect to the internet you have to agree to certain rules of the road.

Your claim is like saying that the government forcing restaurants not to discriminate serving to different people is anti-competitive. It's just not so and you know it.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | August 4, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Hey Brett, remember how you were last trying to convince us Free Press and Public Knowledge were little more than Google shills?

Yet both groups are expressing outrage about the backroom dealings you yourself were complaining about just a few weeks ago.

So if Google is paying the bills for these two groups, why are they vehemently opposing the backroom deal?

It's a complete outrage the Obama Administration and Julius Genachowski are allowing this travesty of secret meetings to continue while consumers are completely locked out of the debate. Julius Genachowski's credibility is on the line and it's not looking good.

No consumer is going to accept the dog and pony show press event proclaiming Net Neutrality protected when the deal was cut with a handful of industry giants at the expense of, and without any input from consumers who have to live with the results.

What I am reading so far looks like a disaster for non-preferred content partners, who will probably end up facing usage-capped broadband with exemptions and better quality service for "preferred partners."

YouTube, the cable industry's TV Everywhere project, and other industry-connected multimedia gets top priority and no limits while independent, potentially competitive multimedia services face Internet Overcharging schemes like usage caps, speed throttles, and saddling consumers with overlimit fees on their broadband bills.

That's nothing less than a handful of providers picking winners and losers (they being the winners and anyone that threatens to compete with them are the losers).

Rogers in Canada just showed us a great example. When Netflix streaming was announced, eastern Canada's largest broadband provider slashed usage allowances to keep consumers from spending too much time with Netflix, forcing them back to Rogers' pay-per-view and Rogers' video rental stores.

Phillip Dampier
Stopthecap.com

Posted by: dampier | August 4, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm shocked to say that I am in agreement with Mr. Glass on this one - I don't think we are getting the whole story here.. this looks like a complete opposite to what Google (and their legion of "public interest groups") are usually for. I'm surprised there aren't statements from the usual outspoken groups such as Public Knowledge or Free Press.

Can't bite the hand that feeds you..

Posted by: ryangee | August 4, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, let me rephrase that - there is a statement from PK but do they condemn this sort of deal or what? Ms. Sohn only states the obvious, not necessarily that Google is in the wrong...merely the fact that they are deciding federal law...

Posted by: ryangee | August 4, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse


Um, does the phrase "Gentlemen's Trust" sound familiar? Conspiracy in restraint of Trade? Sherman Anti-Trust Act violations?

Why isn't the FCC going ballistic over this?

Posted by: thardman | August 5, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Man they'll do -anything- to preserve their monopoly operations in the mobile space won't they?

Like it's somehow different. The fact is a packet is a packet. If they want to start controlling content then they need to lose common carrier protections.

Posted by: Nymous | August 5, 2010 3:26 AM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the details of the agreement have not been released yet. Here's the test. In Verizon's resulting commitment, were the net-neutrality interests of individual ISP customers protected? One way to know: Will Verizon drop from it's Terms of Service the following provision:

"You also may not . . . use the Service to host any type of server."

Plainly, this prohibition is not net neutral. Why is it important? Today, many important applications are technically servers, for instance HFS (HTTP File Server, here: http://www.rejetto.com/hfs/); Opera Unite (here: http://unite.opera.com//); and LogMeIn Free (https://secure.logmein.com/US/products/free/) (not to mention Windows' native Remote Desktop, here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/mobility/getstarted/remoteintro.mspx)

To my knowledge, Verizon hasn't enforced its TOS against home users of these significant applications and others like them. But if that is correct, why does Verizon even bother with this provision in its current sweeping form?

Posted by: rboltuck | August 5, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Foxes in the white house...
-Eric Schmidt Google CEO and member of Obama' campaign and transition team is now Science and Technology Advisor for the White House.
-Andrew McLaughlin, former head of Google Public Policy is now Obama's Chief Technology Officer.
-Sonal Shah, former manager of development at Google is now running the Office of Social Innovation

Posted by: ricotampa | August 5, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Very simple.... If Bush had invited top leaders of an industry in for discussioh of special deals among the parties... say for example, big oil... there would be an outrage!

All agreements must be negotiated in the public forum.

Posted by: Karl_Quick | August 5, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, here's hoping the arrangements don't turn into a content block against competitors. I'm not buying Verizon services, I'm buying a fibre pipe to the Internet. For my newspapers, whatever vids I watch, and email. And my VONAGE. If this turns into a twist of the rules to block Vonage so that I'm then forced to go back to Verizon, that would put us right back into the middle of the anti-trust/monopoly dispute again. Of course, anything Verizon could do would then be mirrored by CATV companies that provide Internet and phone services. The strategy would always be to block the Vonage, the Magic Jacks and other low-cost VOIP apps and force those consumers to the Internet providers' VOIP at three times the cost. Same for web-provided movies. Block the outside competing content for movie downloads and only allow Verizon's or CATV's downloads. It IS a business model and hopefully, FCC will prevent this. My fear is, the lockdown is only a campaign contribution away.

Posted by: JamesChristian | August 5, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Government stay out of it:
Folks look at what the Chinese government does by limiting internet usage and what people can see...In Iran when the government doesn't want the word to spreed, they shut down the internet. Are we headed down the same path with this Obama group.

Posted by: tonyjm | August 5, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Attention Feudal Overlords:

Your New World Odor will fail.

Justice will prevail, and all of you, the wicked, will be bound.

The sheeple are waking up to your scams.

For example, the income tax scam.

WHAT IS TAXED . COM

__)-)
--(0 0)-
__\~/
\\ `

Law Makers?
Lawyers?
Judges?

Have you read the legal definition of "Exempt income" that is ALREADY WRITTEN into US tax law?

Notice, It takes a computer scientist just 2 minutes to find something that thousands of tax "experts" won't even bother.

WHAT IS TAXED . COM

__)-)
--(0 0)-
__\~/
\\ `
The Sheeple no longer say baaaahhh.

/

Posted by: fullspeedaheadman | August 5, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Net neutrality, in and of itself, is a good thing.

Bringing the government in as a regulator, however, is not.

That's the bottom line here. Keep the FCC's hands off the Internet. It's doing just fine without it.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | August 5, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Net neutrality, in and of itself, is a good thing.

Bringing the government in as a regulator, however, is not.

That's the bottom line here. Keep the FCC's hands off the Internet. It's doing just fine without it.

Posted by: ContrarianLibertarian | August 5, 2010 10:27 AM |
--------------------------------
I disagree.

You can no more keep the Government out of the Internet any more than you can keep the Government out of the National Parks.

That said, it is the duty of Government to establish and maintain transparent and non-discriminatory activity throughout the system. Equal Opportunity is the ideal. Equal Protection is the Law.

Posted by: gannon_dick | August 5, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

why would google or verizon sign anything?

unless, UNLESS they gained an advantage over someone else.

Posted by: docwhocuts | August 5, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Seems like a violation of the Sherman Act. Let's see of the "Progressives" do anything about it. Oh, I forgot, they only persecute energy companies, not their pals at Google, who help them spy on American citizens.

Posted by: Miner49er | August 5, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

http://www.publicknowledge.org/public-knowledge-calls-verizon-google-deal-‘regret

http://www.freepress.net/press-release/2010/8/4/reported-verizon-google-deal-means-fcc-must-act-set-public-interest-policy

Pretty much all the groups the AT&T astroturfers like to paint as Google shills, have unambiguously denounced this deal and are furious at Google.

Posted by: james410 | August 5, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The buzzphrase "network neutrality" never had any actual definition. It simply means whatever the speaker hopes to accomplish by imposing onerous regulations upon ISPs. In Google's case, there are several ways that it can protect its multiple Internet monopolies by regulating ISPs, and thus several "definitions" that would be acceptable to it. In this case, it's being crafty; its internal lobbyists are pushing for one definition while its hired lobbying groups (Public Knowledge, Free Press, New America) are pushing for another. Either way, Google wins, and the public is harmed by higher broadband prices, fewer choices of Internet providers, lower quality of service, slower deployment, less innovation, and (of course) being forced to deal with Google's monopolies.

The only way the PUBLIC wins is if no "network neutrality" regulation of any form happens. It's not necessary. The Internet has survived for 27 years without it and is still going strong -- despite the doomsaying of Google's lobbyists.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | August 5, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

To all you tinfoil hat people: what could really possibly go wrong by giving another non-elected, non-accountable quasi-government agency the power to determine what can and can not be communicated across the internet by private parties, and to come to that determination, they are just meeting in smoky backrooms with a large company or two that in the past have had questionable views about consumer privacy concerns and shutting everyone else out of the conversation and not releasing any details of what got discussed?

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Seriously, you people act like there are just a bunch of corrupt scumbags in politics who are there just to line their own pockets and the people be dammed.

Posted by: SChunkman | August 5, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

When folks comment on "net neutrality" they see it only from the users' point of view.

It is probably no coincidence that Verizon announced it has ceased its massive FIOS installation effort at the same time the new FCC announced it would be reclassifying and regulting the internet. Using 1930s monoply regulation will drive a natural duopoly into a single monopoly. There is simply no reason for Verizon to continue to install FIOS if it, like Google, Bitorrent, Vonage etc., can just coattail on Comcast or vice versa.

FIOS was amassive investment by Verizon at $4,000 per home and they have installed 4 million. This would be fiancially rewarding if they could get a competitive advantage, but under the current net neutrality proposals, there would be no advatange. There is no incentive for investment.

The new FCC says we need more competition, yet their model will result in less. They now realize it, hence the "secret" negotiations. They are trying to work out of of a mess they almost created.

The last thing I would like to see is Comcast as my only carrier. No regulatory agency can straighten out their utter incompetance.

Posted by: corkyboyd1 | August 5, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

From http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/05/google-and-verizon-sign-net-neutrality-agreement-begin-the-end/ :

Google's Public Policy Twitter account just belted out a denial of these claims, straight-up saying that the New York Times "is wrong." Here's the full tweet, which certainly makes us feel a bit more at ease. For now. "@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."

Update 2: Verizon's now also issued a statement and, like Google, it's denying the claims in the original New York Times report. It's as follows:

"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."

Posted by: washpost18 | August 5, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

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