Why Google did not betray the Internet

Why Google did not betray the Internet

Summary: All Seidenberg got was a piece of paper. Competition is coming to the last mile.

TOPICS: Google, Browser

There is an assumption among Internet advocates that Google has just pulled a Neville Chamberlain, a peace in our time deal with Verizon that sells out the free Internet for a metered one.

That's not the case. In fact it's more likely that, in this scenario, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg was taking the Chamberlain role.

This does not put Google in the part of Germany, but if you insist we'll make it a cat that looks like Hitler. (This one is named Chaplin. Buy his swag here.)

So what's my evidence?

  1. Internet in a Box -- Cringely has written about this, a data center in a shipping container Verizon has agreed to accept delivery on so Google searches are closer to users. Well, it's also a Point of Presence. It doesn't just handle local searches, but can move requests from Verizon's network to Google's.
  2. Dark Fiber -- When Wide Division Multiplexing (WDM), the dot-bomb, and the MCI scandal caused fiber carriers to turn off the lights, or not light new fiber at all, Google was a big buyer. It has tons of capacity that it can now transfer, via the Internet in a Box, and take a bigger share of the core for the cost of lighting glass.
  3. WiFi -- While carriers were not looking, WiFi has taken off. Hospitals, which are huge data networking users, are now going wireless. AT&T wants iPhone users to look for WiFi and not overload its network. WiFi provides what Bob Frankston calls ambient connectivity -- broadband everywhere -- and that's the whole end game right there.

In addition to this, there's WiMax. And there's the lesson taught by WiFi's relative success and WiMax's relative failure. When you use an open source process, defining the network based on hardware standards rather than doing a proprietary build-out, you get a lot more capacity and creativity.

Oh, and did I mention the 700 MHz auction? Sure, Google's bid wasn't the winner, but Google set the rules. Verizon won't be allowed to just bank the frequencies, and it won't be allowed to build them out on an exclusionary basis.

Why isn't Google seeking to compete directly with Verizon? Because it's a sucker's game. Deflation means prices are falling, meaning revenues are falling, and the only way to profit is to dramatically increase demand.

So what did Google give up? The capacity-constrained wireless networks of Verizon and AT&T won't have to follow net neutrality. Why do you have to use them?

Also, Verizon will be allowed to sell service level agreements on its wired network. I cover health care, and those folks won't move data without them. Sure, it's like the extended warranty on your old HiFi, but if people insist on paying something for nothing who can stop them?

At the heart of this confusion is a simple fact. The fears of open Internet advocates is we're bandwidth-constrained. They say Verizon has a lock on us, as a last-mile ISP, as a cellular carrier, and it can sell that bandwidth for big bucks, through an eye dropper, and force us to follow any conditions it sets.

Is Google doing this out of the goodness of its heart? No. Google is the low-cost supplier of Internet services, of connectivity and computing capacity, by a wide margin. Anything that increases demand improves Google's outlook, straining rivals' budgets while adding cash to its coffers.

Google wants to practice this economics of abundance, benefiting from increased demand. The economics of abundance means that if even one competitor can challenge the oligarchs, then the oligarchs are going to lose. If one can, others can. And one can.

The economics of the Internet and open source are going to win in the end. Resistance is futile. All Seidenberg got was a piece of paper. Competition is coming to the last mile.

Topics: Google, Browser

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  • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

    Neville Chamberlain sold out nothing because viable options were few. Britain was essentially bankrupt after WWI. When WWII did start Britain survived on little more than luck and oratory. Recent historians have tended to treat Chamberlain better.

    And you misquote the phrase.
    • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

      @zlgtr Harry Turtledove has a new novel out whose premise is that Chamberlain did not give an inch at Munich. Worth a read.
    • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

      Nonsense. Germany was certainly not in better shape than Britain. If Chamberlain had confronted Hitler at the beginning, there would not have been a WWII.

      But, I can see where modern historians need to rewrite history in order to defend the left wing order of non-intervention by the US. The US learned a lesson after the two World Wars, but decades of intervention in Korea, Viet Nam, the Baltic states, Iraq, and Afghanistan have left the Democrats looking for a justification to simply let the rot set in. As with medical care, it is cheaper to intervene earlier than later. A tough sell in a difficult economy.
      • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

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  • What is this...I don't even

    I've read this whole article twice and so far I still don't see how Google's action are anything but a detriment to the internet as a whole. Perhaps I'm just too stupid to grasp the concepts your putting forth, it's in the realm of possibility(a wise man knows, stupidity is always on the table) but I'd say it's more likely you came up with a flashy headline that supports your view(that's all most people read anyway) and then filled the rest of the article with fluff and drivel.

    Google was the outsider calling for freedom and change but now that they are the big dog with Androids success, it's time to play the carriers game, success begets greed, greed begets immorality, "Don't be Evil" indeed. How about not selling your users personal information without their consent for one. I was a good little gooboy, I have all the services, the nice shiny android phone, 4 separate gmail accounts, google as the home page for all my many browsers, but their recent actions have convinced me that they are not the company I thought they were and I will be moving on.
    User 13
    • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

      @User 13 It is not in Google's best interest to limit the Internet. As the low cost provider of services, they are advantaged by more usage, not less. It's got nothing to do with my feelings. And we should understand that.
    • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

      @User 13 I agree that the article was confusing. There are a lot of statements with little connection between them and no discernible logical argument as to why these statements support the conclusion.
  • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

    The fact that I'm not an HP stockholder doesn't mean I'm OK with their CEO treating the petty cash box as his personal piggy bank. The fact that I'm not Iranian doesn't mean I approve of stoning. And the fact that I don't have to use the wireless networks because I got free wi-fi from the hospital doesn't mean I'm OK with robber barrons using the public airwaves as their personal, government-sponsored road to riches.

    We need to consider a few things: the wireless spectrum is the property of the public, not the carriers. The carriers represent a monopoly in some markets - an oligopoly at best - who rightfully represent their own financial interests and not ours. And, they have been the beneficiaries of massive taxpayer-funded subsidies in the form of tax breaks or outright cash.

    I understand that market forces need to allocate limited resources such as bandwidth-constrained wireless networks. I'm not asking the carriers to provide unlimited downloads or allow me to stream movies 24x7. What's needed is fair and transparent limitations. Otherwise you're going to have carriers favoring their own resources at the expense of those offered by competitors. Would you be happy if AT&T put in their own music download store, and cut the bandwidth of iTunes in half?
    • I agree

      @DaveN_MVP But you can't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The government isn't about to take back what it sold just because the science was wrong. Waiting for the government to do anything is also a sucker's bet, since they're as likely to do something wrong as right.

      Point is, at the end of the day Google didn't give away anything it thought Verizon could keep its hands on. And it retained Verizon's cooperation while it used technology to bypass it.
  • Wireless not bandwidth constrained, they are cell tower constrained

    The main reason that there are capacity problems is that it is difficult - due to government regulation & NIMBY - to install new cell towers & antennas. People who purchase cell phones should be required to sign an agreement allowing a new cell tower site in their neighborhood. Cellular technology, by design, can support increasing capacity by subdividing cells - which requires installing additional antennas&towers within the cell's area. However, it takes months & years to get new antenna sites approved.
    • RE: Why Google did not betray the Internet

      @gmeader I don't think it's a shortage of towers. Have you looked into the tower business lately? Last time I checked American Tower (there is such a company) they were complaining about having too many towers, not too few.

      Also, you can subdivide a signal on a tower by pointing antennas off it in different directions and using the latest gear. It's common to have multiple cells served from a single tower.
  • Why did Google betray the open-source smart phone and its users.

    Google did betray the smart-phone users by not fighting for open standards, and by not fighting to get their phones in the hands of people who should be able to sign on with any carrier for cheap.
    BTW, if there is no WiFi drought, then why did: "The 'capacity-constrained' wireless networks of Verizon and AT&T won?t have to follow net neutrality".... get to keep their bandwidth metered?