Google said Thursday it doesn't have a deal with Verizon to pay for priority Intnernet treatment.
"We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google or YouTube traffic," said Google spokesperson Mistique Cano in an e-mail to Multichannel News. "The New York Times piece is quite simply wrong." Verizon had not responded to a request for comment at press time, but a spokesman said Wednesday night that it has been working with Google for said 10 months "to reach an agreement on broadband policy."
"The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken," said Verizon spokesman David Fish in a blog posting Thursday. "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."
The NYT reported that the two companies were in talks about an agreement that would allow Verizon to expedite some online content, "Like [Google's] YouTube," if content providers were willing to pay for it. Google is looking to do more long-form, ad-supported video on YouTube, for example.
As to the initial Bloomberg report that Google had an agreement with Verizon more generally on Web traffic management, she had no comment beyond saying: "We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet."
Google and Verizon are already on the same page on a number of network neutrality issues, having filed joint comments on the FCC's rulemaking outlining their points of agreement. But if a deal for prioritizing Google content was not being talked about by the companies, as Cano contends, it was certainly a hot topic of conversation by their critics.
The reports drew a slew of heated responses. "Google and Verizon cut deal to carve up the Internet," was how Free Press headlined its release. "The deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it."
"The world's biggest media companies want to define how people will get content over the Internet. Money talks; independent content creators: take a walk," was how Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America put it. "A mega-deal is reportedly in the works in which Verizon will favor Internet content from Google because Google has the spare cash to pay for preferred access."
In the wake of the press reports, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) pushed the FCC to do something soon on network neutrality, citing the reported agreement between Google and Verizon on network traffic management. Markey characterized it as paid prioritization of Internet traffic.
"The potential deal between two broadband behemoths underscores the need for the FCC to act quickly to protect the free and open Internet," Markey said in a statement. "In the absence of such action, it's increasingly clear that cozy cooperation between communications colossi will reign on the Internet. No one should be surprised that such companies will seek to slant the playing field in their favor, a result that will stifle the next generation of Internet innovators and short-circuit the economic benefits needed to power our economy in the 21st century. It is time for the FCC to step in to protect consumers, innovation, and fair competition."
Markey was active on the Internet front Thursday, joining with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) to ask a number of Web sites, including those of Comcast and MSNBC, for info on how they tracked and targeted users.
Markey is a long-time proponent of network neutrality, including introducing bills on the subject, most recently H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act, introduced in July of 2009.