Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are reportedly close to reaching an agreement to provide a tiered level of service for consumers, an agreement that could lead to broader industry adoption.
Creating tiered-level of Internet content delivery would go against the central argument by Internet freedom advocates called “net neutrality,” which argues that all content should be delivered equally.
The details on what Verizon and Google have agreed to in exchange for altering their "net neutrality" policies remain sparse. The Times reported that Google might agree to allow Verizon the option to provide some level of tiered service while The Wall Street Journal reported that it might be a legislative framework the two companies have agreed to.
Google and Verizon are of course among the largest names in the telecommunications business, and Google previously had been an advocate of “net neutrality.”
Via Twitter, Google denied that it had any conversations with Verizon over carriage of traffic and said “we remain committed to an open Internet.”
Verizon also denied the Times' report, saying "to suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect."
A tiered-delivery system of content on the Internet could lead to higher prices for consumers similar to how cable prices have escalated in recent years, requiring consumers to pay extra to access certain content more quickly than others.
Broadband providers like Verizon, TimeWarner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and AT&T (NYSE:T) have been in favor of a tiered system because of the costs to install higher-bandwidth products. Content providers traditionally have been against tiered systems because it could put some content inherently ahead of other content in online delivery.
In between the companies on this issue is the Federal Communications Commission, who is attempting to draft a regulatory framework on the issue of "net neutrality" but has run into political headwinds from both the telecommuncations lobby and Congress.