Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 5 2010   1:35PM GMT

Possible Verizon/Google content fast-lane deal: net neutrality issues?

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Verizon and Google are said to be nearing a deal that would establish “fast lanes” for content delivery to consumers paid by portal players (like YouTube) willing to pay a charge for the service. This would seem to fly in the face of the FCC’s notion of net neutrality, but we believe that the move would likely pass muster simply because special handing would be available to anyone who wants to pay and is thus non-discriminatory in a strict legal sense.

There might be relatively little impact of the fast lane on much of the traffic, since most Internet performance is constrained by things like the server or content delivery network, the client device, or the access pipe. What the deal would do, however, is make it possible for operators to profit from QoS on access and middle-mile investments, and that could have an enormous impact on their willingness to invest and improve consumer broadband.

But this is only a rumor at this point, and there are some who say that the FCC at least might be inclined to be stubborn on the issue. Congress could legislate authority for the deal, however, and trump FCC objections.

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