The internet is free (well mostly free) but ongoing talks between the mighty Google and US phone company and internet provider provider Verizon are sparking fears in some quarters that a paid-for internet may be on the horizon.
The talks involve the potential for prioritising some internet content so it reaches its target more quickly through the increasingly crowded ether. Companies, and maybe individuals at some stage, would pay for the privilege.
Interestingly one of the companies that might see the benefit in guaranteeing fast internet loading is video network YouTube, owned by Google of course.
It’s probably inevitable that the internet which once seemed so blissfully simple (that is, it was free) should be becoming more complicated by the minute. At one end you have media owners like Rupert Murdoch trying to charge for content, at the other governments like China seeking to censor access to Google and Saudi Arabia banning BlackBerrys because its spooks can’t read the messages.
Google and Verizon aren’t being very forthcoming either, partly because the Federal Communications Commission is investigating the industry to try to prevent big players getting together to generate more control and profit.
The boys and girls at the FCC look as though they’ll have a fight on their hands.