WSJ: Google backtracks on Net neutrality; Google says WSJ doesn't understand caching

WSJ: Google backtracks on Net neutrality; Google says WSJ doesn't understand caching

Summary: Updated: Google has reportedly approached network providers to get a so-called fast lane for its content over the Internet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google shot the Journal story down and said it was merely looking at co-locating content to speed delivery time--also known as caching.

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Updated: Google has reportedly approached network providers to get a so-called fast lane for its content over the Internet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google shot the Journal story down and said it was merely looking at co-locating content to speed delivery time--also known as caching.

The Journal vs. Google spat is notable since the search giant historically had been one of the biggest proponents of network neutrality--the concept that all Internet traffic is created equally.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Google has traditionally been one of the loudest advocates of equal network access for all content providers.

From there, the Journal looks at the ramifications on network neutrality and also notes that Google wouldn't be able to cut a deal with cable and phone companies without raising a ruckus. In fact, the report was a little hard to believe from the beginning. Of course, Google would love preferential treatment for a price, but would it really want to get regulators all wound up?

Keep in mind that regulators are already worried about Google's power. That's why the Yahoo ad deal was shot down. Those regulator worries would grow exponentially if Google cut deals with pipe providers.

Update:  Google has shot down the Journal's take. In a blog, Richard Whitt, Google's Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, said:

Google has offered to "colocate" caching servers within broadband providers' own facilities; this reduces the provider's bandwidth costs since the same video wouldn't have to be transmitted multiple times. We've always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis.

All of Google's colocation agreements with ISPs -- which we've done through projects called OpenEdge and Google Global Cache -- are non-exclusive, meaning any other entity could employ similar arrangements. Also, none of them require (or encourage) that Google traffic be treated with higher priority than other traffic. In contrast, if broadband providers were to leverage their unilateral control over consumers' connections and offer colocation or caching services in an anti-competitive fashion, that would threaten the open Internet and the innovation it enables.

Despite the hyperbolic tone and confused claims in Monday's Journal story, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: 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.

Topics: Google, Browser, Networking

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33 comments
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  • I guess when Google says...

    "Do no evil", I guess "to Google" is implied.
    ("Do no evil to Google")
    MGP2
    • lol

      Yes, caching their videos to cut down on bandwidth
      congestion for everyone is SO evil. NOT!
      AzuMao
  • {sigh}

    I long for the day when reporters:

    1) Don't spew lies and misconceptions intentionally.

    - or -

    2) Learn about the technology they write about.

    Network neutrality isn't about disallowing a company
    to invest into their infrastructure to make access to
    their services responsive and available. Network
    neutrality is about service providers (ISPs, cable
    companies, phone companies) to provide Internet access
    which is neutral in terms of the information or site
    being requested.

    For instance, if Google makes a deal with the cable
    companies to host their servers at their respective
    locations, it would only be a violation of network
    neutrality if the cable companies then denied similar
    deals with all other organizations. If the cable
    companies kept their doors open to similar deals with
    other companies, then it's simply a matter of being in
    the co-location business, which isn't a violation of
    network neutrality.

    Otherwise, someone could say that the city of Mountain
    View, California is somehow violating network
    neutrality by allowing the people of its city faster
    access to Google's Mountain View servers.

    Now, if Google struck a deal that agreed that requests
    to other specified sites through cable companies would
    be throttled to a lower speed artificially, but
    requests to Google's servers were artificially sped
    up... this would be a violation of network neutrality.
    If, however, the requests going to Google's servers
    were only faster and more responsive because Google's
    servers are more plentiful... more spread out... and
    hosted at each cable company's main locations... then
    this is not a violation of network neutrality and is,
    in fact, the basis for how the Internet was born.

    Want faster site access for the east coast? Setup
    servers in a co-location facility in the east. Want
    faster site access for China? Setup servers in China.
    This has been happening with the Internet for years.
    This is nothing new and the fact that this is being
    spun into something that it is not... and somehow into
    something that is uniquely "Google"... is just proof
    that true "journalism" is being deteriorated at a
    rapid pace these days.
    BIGELLOW
    • Exactly what authority

      Does the Wall Street Journal hold any more. If anyone believes anything in that rag any more then they need their head testing.
      Bozzer
    • Good explanation except..

      ..that the morons who actually fell for the story,
      have attention spans to short to read 5 paragraphs of
      text. So it was rather wasted.
      AzuMao
  • Flip-flop?

    I still cling that phrase to John Kerry, even as I've turned sides, but is that pretty much the rule with Google now? Flipping on the Yahoo deal, now this, plus some other acts as of late, or am I just making wrong assumptions
    clindhartsen
    • You're making wrong assumptions.

      This "journalist" is a dumbass. Co-location is not in
      any way a violation of network neutrality.
      AzuMao
  • Do no evil, huh?

    Is there still anyone out there drinking Google koolaid?
    LBiege
    • koolaid vs tin foil hats.

      Both as bad as each other.
      Bozzer
    • This is just a deal to save money in traffic acquisition costs.

      It saves the most for the ISPs. Yes, it does have the side effect of speeding up data coming from Google, and that is why Google is willing to do this. But, there is nothing nefarious about individual businesses investing to better serve their customers.

      In this business and in almost any other, there are advantages of scale.
      DonnieBoy
    • Are you a fucking idiot?

      There's nothing "evil" about setting up servers in
      multiple locations. Get a basic education before you
      come back here, thanks.
      AzuMao
    • Murdoch

      Murdoch buying the Wall Street Journal has made it as credible as Fox News.
      epcraig
  • RE: Google ditching network neutrality?

    No, they're building a CDN (content distribution network) like Akamai et al, which is at a layer above the one where net neutrality operates.

    The WSJ article is bogus.
    Hamish.MacEwan
    • Story updated

      with google's response, which says the WSJ is smoking something
      Larry Dignan
      • probably

        the embers of their collapsing empire.
        Bozzer
      • But they didn't shoot it down, they simply tried to rationalize their hypoc

        But they didn't shoot it down, they simply tried to
        rationalize their hypocrisy. It doesn't change the
        fact that Google's position that for-fee caching
        prioritization is OK but for-fee QoS prioritization
        should be made illegal is hypocritical.
        georgeou
        • "for-fee caching prioritization"?

          Wtf? Are you an idiot or something? It's called co-
          location/CDN. Companies like Akamai have been doing it
          for years, and there's nothing wrong with it. Take the
          god damn tin foil hats off already you damn MSN
          fanboys.
          AzuMao
    • "The WSJ article...

      "...The WSJ article"

      Like most of their articles that don't simply lists of numbers without commentary.
      fairportfan
  • Cost structure

    "Network neutrality" is of course the PR name for Google, Microsoft et al using law to force carriers to shift costs for resources they use to the public.

    Co-location appears to affect costs for Google only, so it's unrelated to network neutrality. Assuming that the carriers are billing Google for any expenses incurred.

    The closest the situation comes to network neutrality is the comment that any other company would be able to do the same. Any company with the resources to do the same. And how many of those are there?
    Anton Philidor
    • This does raise the question of hypocrisy on the part of Google

      While the WSJ story isn?t clear on all the facts, it
      does raise the serious and legitimate question of
      hypocrisy on the part of Google.

      The point is that Google is pushing hard for the
      Markey-2006 and Snowe/Dorgan 2006 proposals that would
      ban ordinary network prioritization based on the
      source (applies to the content provider or the
      broadband customer since the legislation doesn?t
      specify). Those bills would also prohibit surcharges
      on network prioritization and Google was sure to leave
      an exception for all other Internet related businesses
      by specifically targeting broadband in the
      legislation. This ensures a free pass to content
      caching (usually in the form of Content Delivery
      Network (CDN) providers like Akamai or LimeLight)
      which offers not just a ?fast lane?, but a warp speed
      lane that operates at an instantaneous speed because
      they bypass the need to retransmit data. Content
      caching operates 10,000 times faster (the typical
      number of clients each caching server services) than
      the type of network prioritization Google is lobbying
      hard to ban.

      Opponents of Net Neutrality regulation have argued
      that neither type of prioritization is bad and that
      they?re needed to optimize the Internet, but Net
      Neutrality regulation would ban network prioritization
      which is critical for making networks better at
      multitasking and critical for eliminating real-time
      application killing jitter (I explain this in my new
      Network Management paper released last week). They
      make the false argument that Network Prioritization
      would give large dotcoms an unfair advantage over
      smaller content companies when that is utterly
      nonsense since network prioritization does not have
      the infinite-speed congestion-bypassing
      characteristics of content caching. So using this
      false ?we don?t want big companies to have a content
      delivery advantage? argument, they would tie up
      broadband networks from doing reasonable network
      management that enhances the value of broadband
      networks. The real prioritization technology that
      does give larger content companies like Google the
      ultimate advantage is conveniently left off the table
      in the Net Neutrality proposals which isn?t surprising
      when we consider who is backing the legislation.

      The key point is that if Net Neutrality proponents
      want to prohibit companies from gaining an advantage
      through financial might and the ability to deploy
      acceleration technology, then they should have a
      bigger problem with content caching than network
      prioritization. If they truly believe in their cause,
      they should be calling for a ban on both technologies
      and not exempt the most effective acceleration
      technology that their financial backers need because
      anything short of that would be hypocritical.

      The reality is that the Internet has always been an
      open platform for any one, any use, and any business
      model, but participation has always required varying
      levels of payment for varying levels of service. BOTH
      form of prioritization technologies are crucial to the
      Internet and it would be foolish to ban either
      technology.
      georgeou