GigaOm's Drew Clark makes a convincing case that Google is backing off of its stance as Net neutrality champion.
Clark quotes Google Senior Policy Counsel Andrew McLaughlin saying:
“Net neutrality will ultimately be solved by competition in the long-run,” describing fiber, broadband over power lines, and wireless efforts to crack “the existing telco-cable duopoly...Cutting the FCC out the picture would probably be a smart move. It is much better to think of this as an FTC or unfair competition type of problem.”
McLaughlin goes on to say that there's a pragmatic view as long as telecom companies charge more based on quality of service. As long as these telecom giants don't discriminate all charging more is ok.
Clark outlines the situation very well. The next logical question is why the switch--if it is indeed a switch?
My hunch: Google got smart about the business ramifications of Net neutrality. It also may realize that a Net neutrality law would only screw things up--not to mention hinder any Google plans to use competitive technologies, say broadband over powerlines or wireless.
For the record, I don't support a Net neutrality mandate largely because Congress will botch the legislation. It's a given. More importantly, Net neutrality regulation could freeze Internet development in it's current state--and that can't be good going forward. There are unintended consequences to a Net neutrality law.
Bottom line: Net neutrality is complicated and pragmatism and competition will win the day. Knowledge@Wharton outlined some of the consequences of a Net neutrality law and roughly concluded that "mandating network neutrality could have adverse effects on Internet development and result in unforeseen consequences."
Maybe Google sees something we don't. Maybe Google, which is increasingly delivering video, wants to get access to those big fiber optic pipes to the house that Verizon will charge a premium for. Maybe Google sees a Net neutrality mandate as something that will limit its big plans for world domination. If Google is backing off--and it appears to be--there's a good reason.