By Jason Theodorou
Google has agreed to a plan which will determine how internet services are conducted over communications networks. The agreement, drafted up with US company Verizon, will determine how internet traffic will be carried over the coming years.
Verizon will be able to block certain internet services, but will need to be transparent about these plans. The communications provider will be allowed to charge more for prioritising certain internet services on its network.
The arrangement has been seen as a red flag to those who advocate 'net neutrality', a principle which holds that all internet traffic should be served on an equal basis. Those who support the 'net neutrality' idea hold that if the Google/Verizon deal were emulated by other companies, bandwidth would be largely devoted to premium services and the 'free' internet would suffer as a result.
Google boss Eric Schmidt said: "We have been talking to Verizon for a long time about trying to get an agreement on what the definition of what 'net neutrality' is... we are trying to find solutions that bridge between the hard core 'net neturality or else' view and the historical telecom view of no such agreement". He suggested that voice content could be prioritised over video content.
Digital rights advocacy groups took a cautious view of the deal. John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog said: "Apparently Google redefines principles to suit the business need of the moment... What Google and Verizon are trying to do is carve up the Internet behind closed doors for their own benefit."
The deal comes after the Federal Communications Commission disbanded talks on net neutrality, saying that it had failed to create an agreement on a 'robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the internet'.
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