Rumors surfaced today saying Verizon and Google are reportedly close to making a deal that could end net neutrality. The Associated Press reported that the two companies, which have been in talks for close to a year, may reach an agreement in the coming days.
If such an agreement were reached, it would change the face of the Internet as we know it, giving telecommunications companies the ability to choose the speed and order of content delivery. It could mean faster services, but at a price to both the online sites that want their content to be top-priority and Internet users who would have to pay to support the premium services, according to the Guardian.
The Federal Communications Commissions has been holding talks on the issue with cable, phone and Internet companies to create an industry-wide standard. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to keep a level playing field on the Internet, prohibiting cable and phone companies from giving priority to one site over another, according to the AP.
Both Google and Verizon are involved in the FCC talks, but this agreement between the telecom giants could undermine the FCC's objective. In a statement Wednesday, however, Verizon said it is still committed to FCC's discussions, according to the AP.
The company said it is "optimistic this process will reach a consensus that can maintain an open Internet and the investment and innovation required to sustain it."
Google has previously seemed to stand on the side of net neutrality. In a statement from earlier this year to the FCC, Google said it supports "a non-discrimination principle that bans prioritising internet traffic based on the ownership (the who), the source (the what) of the content or application".
Upon hearing about a potential agreement between Verizon and Google, critics said a deal could push Google and Verizon further into a monopoly of the market and a deal of this sort wouldn't protect Internet users or competitors.