More things we know, and don’t, about Google-Verizon

UPDATE: The FCC has now officially called off its net neutrality talks, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. As I noted below, Genachowski lost control of the process.

Net neutrality Google and Verizon today each issued partial denials of last night’s reports of a deal regarding net neutrality, Google in a Tweet and Verizon in an actual paragraph. Both specifically take issue with the NY Times’ version of events, which refers to an “agreement” between the companies under which YouTube would (could, may, might, it’s not entirely clear) pay Verizon “to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers.”

In its official statement, Verizon said of the Times story:

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.

In its Tweet, Google said, “We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.”

Hmm. Let’s parse:

  • Likely true that Google has made no deal to pay Verizon to deliver content. If it had, every ISP on earth would be up its ass by morning wanting the same deal. Very expensive for Google.
  • A “business arrangement” between Google and Verizon on net neutrality would, in fact, be pointless since it would not be binding on anyone else.
  • The lack of a business arrangement does not mean the parties don’t have overlapping agendas. I still think those agendas have more to do with Android, FiOS and Google TV than with YouTube.
  • If there’s a deal it’s likely on a “framework” the two can take to Congress: Verizon would set an example for ISPs generally by agreeing to accept FCC authority over basic neutrality rules while Google agrees not to oppose ISPs retaining the right to prioritize for a price. Both sides get regulatory certainty for the rest of their agendas.
  • No prioritization is a deal breaker for all ISPs, not just Verizon.
  • Genachowski has lost control of this process.

Further reading:

Google: We Still Back Net Neutrality

What Google Still Isn’t Saying

Google Strongly Denies Verizon Tiered-Web Deal Report