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Google, Verizon Net Neutrality Talks Raise Ire

While industry and public interest groups protest secret FCC meetings, one industry observer says that potential Google-Verizon alliance is really about taking on Apple.

Major content providers like Google, Amazon, and Skype worry that a weakening of net neutrality standards could place them at the mercy of carriers, who could block or weaken their content.

The FCC is increasingly caught between a rock and a hard place, because its National Broadband Plan as submitted to Congress is in danger of failing to win approval. The FCC, which has a strong commitment to bring robust broadband to all Americans, has been working behind the scenes in an attempt to hammer out compromises acceptable to the widely divergent business segments involved in the Internet.

The latest rumor of a Verizon-Google deal has stirred public interest groups. "We are united in our dismay about an agreement reportedly reached by Verizon and Google," states a release from a group of public interest organizations including Public Knowledge, Consumer Federation of America, Free Press, Media Access Project, Media and Democracy Coalition, New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative, and the Center for Media Justice.

Arnold believes Google and Verizon were brought together by mutual apprehension of Apple's success. "Google and Verizon are teaming up to try to stop Apple," said Arnold. "They have no response to Apple."

Arnold said Google's myriad of projects hasn't produced any recent winners. "Google is a one-trick pony," he said noting the firm's dominance of Internet search for 11 years. "Google Wave is a flop, they have legal problems in 38 states, they have no answer to Facebook."

AT&T has enjoyed great success with its exclusive deal to market Apple's iPhone and Verizon Wireless has done well with mobile phones based on Google's Android platform. The eternally churning rumor mill has also produced reports that Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile will offer iPhones in the coming months. None of the subjects of the rumors have responded to them publically, fueling additional complaints about the secrecy of the backdoor negotiations.

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