Things we know, and don’t, about the Verizon/Google ‘deal’

Net neutrality The wires are buzzing tonight were buzzing last night on word that Google has cut some sort of dirty deal with Verizon on net neutrality that could be announced as soon as Friday. While details are sketchy, and the sourcing “on background,” the basic idea seems to be that Verizon would agree to some general rules about treating all traffic equally on its DSL and fiber networks while Google would not object to Verizon treating some traffic as more equal than other traffic for a price. All bets are off as far as Verizon’s wireless network goes.

The news has touched off paroxysms of despair among public interest advocates, who once viewed Google as an ally in the fight against carriers over net neutrality, and had somehow convinced themselves that, when push came to shove, Google would somehow not respond like the large, publicly traded, for-profit enterprise it is by cutting a deal, and who now feel betrayed. Oh well.

So, given the lack both of official details and sufficient time to digest what has been reported, what can we infer, and what would be useful to know about the apparent deal? Here are a few items from my list:

  • Clearly, the broader negotiations involving the FCC, the carriers, Internet companies and public interest groups are not going well and Google and Verizon have no expectation that a consensus among the larger group will be reached anytime soon. You don’t cut a side deal if you still think there’s a big deal to be done.
  • It’s also possible Google and Verizon weren’t happy with the drift of those negotiations and want to put a marker on the field — perhaps for the benefit of Congress — before someone does something stupid.
  • What sort of larger commitment to Android did Google extract from Verizon as part of the deal?
  • I guess we can assume Verizon will not be getting the iPhone.
  • 10 will get you 20 there’s a major Google TV angle somewhere. We’ve already seen hints of some sort of Verizon FiOS/Google TV alliance, and priority service for Google TV-platformed content could be extremely valuable. Google is in the search-ad business, and Google TV is a bid to bring search to the TV so Google can sell ads against it. The ability to guarantee video advertisers priority service over IP networks could be critical.
  • Somebody at Google or Verizon knows something the rest of us don’t yet about Apple’s TV plans and they feel the need to get a move on.

More as details roll in.

Further reading:

Google-Verizon Net Neutrality Talks Confuse

Google’s Schmidt on Verizon and Net Neutrality

Google Is Making a Devil’s Pact With Verizon

Google and Verizon in Talks On Selling Internet Priority

Verizon, Google Make Net Neutrality Pact

Verizon: Still Committed to FCC Broadband Bill Negotiations

Google Ready To Abandon Net Neutrality for Verizon Deal