MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06: In this photo illustration Google's Chrome, Google Inc.'s new Web browser is displayed on an laptop. (Photo Illustration by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Citing undisclosed sources, the newspaper reported that Google had been in talks with major cable and phone companies about getting preferential treatment for traffic to and from its sites.
That would conflict with the principle of Net neutrality, under which carriers traditionally give the same treatment to traffic from different sites. The Federal Communications Commission has voiced support for the principle, and sanctioned Comcast Corp. this year for slowing some types of file-sharing traffic. Google has been a vocal supporter of Net neutrality.
Richard Whitt, Google's Washington-based telecom and media counsel, wrote in a blog post early Monday that the Journal's report is apparently based on a misunderstanding of the company's offer to place so-called "edge servers" within the networks of Internet service providers.
Such servers store Google content frequently requested by subscribers, such as YouTube videos. When subscribers request the content from Google, it can be transmitted from the local servers rather than from Google's central servers.
That approach cuts down on network traffic and speeds response times. It is already widely employed by other companies, like Akamai Technologies Inc. and Limelight Networks Inc., which act as "edge servers for hire." Edge servers are not widely considered to violate Net neutrality.
"Google remains strongly committed to the principle of Net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open," Whitt wrote on his blog.
Wall Street Journal spokesman Robert Christie said the paper stood by its story. The story's reporters did not return calls for comment.