Net neutrality on the ropes?

Posted on August 5, 2010  /  8 Comments

It took us a long time to adopt a position on net neutrality, but finally we did, based on the lessons for policy we drew from the Budget Telecom Network Model (BTNM). We concluded that it was not appropriate for countries that relied on BTNM and the high volumes of use and extraordinarily low prices associated with it. Now it appears that two of the main protagonists of the fight over net neutrality in the US are crafting a compromise that will in effect end the debate.

Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

The charges 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. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Any agreement between Verizon and Google could also upend the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to assert its authority over broadband service, which was severely restricted by a federal appeals court decision in April.


  1. Here is commentary that may shed light on the question mark:

    Google’s agreement with Verizon could very well be merely a way for Google to get its data closer to users, by dropping its shipping containers into Verizon data centers, or perhaps their parking lots. The phone company’s data centers, after all, are typically only one or two hops from Internet users.

    With servers so close to users, Google could not only send its data faster but also avoid sending it over the Internet backbone that connects service providers and for which they all pay. This would save space for other traffic — and money for both Verizon and Google, as their backbone bills decline (wishful thinking, but theoretically possible). Net neutrality would be not only intact, but enhanced.

    Ideally, Google would pay Verizon not for priority carriage but for holding and powering its shipping containers. And the differentiation between wired and wireless networks may well be about the phone company not wanting to give shipping container access to its wireless data centers, since they could flood the limited wireless capacity.

  2. Thankfully, the debate is far from over.

    Google and Verizon introduce net neutrality proposal –

  3. Multiple viewpoints and many emotional comments on the subject at

  4. Emphasis on emotional! The point you / Lirneasia make about the BTNM is unsurprisingly not part of this debate. And on the topic of BTNM, a link to the study in the story above would be greatly appreciated.