In a move that would give the mega giant tech company a major lead over… well… everybody… there is a deal on the table between Google and Verizon Communications regarding so-called network neutrality rules. The rules dictate how broadband providers treat Internet traffic flowing over their lines. If this deal goes through, it would give Google a major push to the head of the class, speeding of delivery of their content to customers at a faster rate.

It is not the specific Google/Verizon deal that could cause the problem. Instead, it’s the fact that if the deal goes through, it would grant privilege to other big, powerful, giant companies to pay to have their content show up at a faster rate on the Internet. The offerings of small businesses would get lost and now the integrity of free enterprise on the Internet will be challenged.

According the the Associated Press, a deal could be announced within days.

Google, Verizon deal could change net neutrality

Laptop displays Google logo Laptop displays Google logo

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

A deal between Google and Verizon could set the stage for big companies to pay for the privilege of speeding up delivery of their own content to consumers.

An interview with Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman on the impact of “net neutrality.”

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Bill Radke: There’s a deal reportedly in the works between Google and Verizon that could upset the apple cart of what’s known as “net neutrality.” This is the idea that all Internet content- from YouTube videos to eBay listings to this show’s podcast get treated the same by Internet Service Providers. These are the telephone and cable companies that control the pipelines of the Web. The agreement between Google and Verizon could set the stage for big companies to pay for the privilege of speeding up delivery of their own content to consumers. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman is here to help us bushwhack through the weeds of “net neutrality.” Good morning, Mitchell.

Mitchell Hartman: Good morning, Bill.

Radke: What might a deal between Verizon and Google mean?

Hartman: Well right now, the cable and telephone companies don’t speed up or slow down the flow of information to our computers, depending on what website it’s coming from. But think about it: someone who downloads tons of TV shows or YouTube videos, that uses up a lot of bandwidth. Companies like Verizon would like to charge more for that — let Google, for instance, which owns YouTube, pay to give priority to YouTube videos priority getting to our computers. And we might end up paying part of that bill with tiered pricing for Internet just like we now have for premium cable. Reports are sketchy on this deal — reports in Bloomberg and the New York Times — neither company is commenting, and we don’t know how it might affect smart phones.

Radke: And what is the problem with letting the Internet evolve in that direction?

Hartman: Well, you know if some big company, Google or Amazon or eBay, gets to buy access to the fast lane, somebody else’s content is going to be left in the slow lane. Somebody who isn’t paying millions of dollars to Verizon or AT&T or Comcast — a library, struggling online magazines, whatever. So to consumer and open-Internet advocates, these kinds of deals are basically the death knell of “net neutrality.” Now the FCC is trying to work out regulations to keep the playing field of the Internet somewhat level going forward, but it probably doesn’t have the legal authority to do that right now.

Radke: OK, Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman. Mitchell, thanks.

Hartman: You’re welcome.


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