New York – Google (NASD:  GOOG) is close to securing a deal with Verizon (NYSE:  VZ) that would
see the company pay for preferential treatment of its Web traffic, The New York
Times reported on Thursday. Both Google and Verizon disputed the report, which
if true would undermine a core tenet of "Net Neutrality," which
Google has said in the past it supports.

A post to Google’s public policy
Twitter feed stated, "@NYTimes is wrong. We’ve not had any convos with VZN
about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open

In a blog post, Verizon said the story "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."

Net Neutrality hit an obstacle several months ago
when a federal appeals court said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
lacks the authority to impose tenets of Net Neutrality on businesses.

Since the
ruling, the FCC has been in talks with many companies — including Google and
Verizon — on how to proceed.

However, the Associated Press reported on
Thursday that the FCC has called off such talks on a compromise.

sources told AP that a Verizon-Google deal could be announced within days, and
they "hope it will provide a framework for net neutrality legislation in

"The point of a network neutrality rule is to prevent big
companies from dividing the Internet between them," Gigi B. Sohn,
president consumer advocates Public Knowledge, told The Times.

"The fate
of the Internet is too large a matter to be decided by negotiations involving
two companies, even companies as big as Verizon and Google."

Related Links:
(Verizon blog post)