FCC drops net neutrality talks – alarm at Verizon/Google pact

6 Aug 2010

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is understood to have abandoned negotiations with phone, cable TV and internet providers. The news comes after it was claimed Google and Verizon were in talks about managing internet traffic.

The thorny subject of who pays for the internet and the required broadband infrastructure is at the heart of the net neutrality debate. On the one hand you have the internet companies who are attracting large online audiences like YouTube and Facebook, but on the other you have the infrastructure providers who could provide higher speeds and better performance to internet firms willing to pay.

Over the past number of weeks, the FCC brokered talks between cable TV, mobile telephone, internet service providers and major internet companies.

Hotly denied

However, in the past 24 hours it emerged that internet giant Google and telecoms giant Verizon were holding talks of their own. While both have hotly denied any negotiations are taking place, it is believed the two companies are trying to unveil a proposed framework for net neutrality legislation.

Instead, however, it is feared they have undermined the work of the FCC in brokering talks and raised suspicions that Verizon is willing to speed up users’ access to content if Google pays for it.

According to a statement by FCC chief of staff Edward Lazarus, the talks failed to generate the robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the internet, “one that drives innovation, investment, free speech and consumer choice.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years