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Google says it's ready to file antitrust complaints if telcos abuse their network control

Google spoke to reporters today and warned that if broadband service providers abuse a possible right given by the government, it will step up and file anti-trust complaints. The issue boils down to net neutrality, which has been large ongoing issue between broadband service providers, companies, schools and the government. Google says that it hopes that legislators will support net neutrality, which will prevent large telcos and cable companies from creating tiered networks, charging more for a certain type of use than another, even though the data travels on the same network.

Google said that it will not hesitate to file anti-trust complaints against any company that abuses their control over network bandwidth and prices. However, this control has not been handed over from the government just yet. Although the US Senate Commerce Committee approved a communications reform last week that allows telephone companies to offer subscription based television services to customers.

Vint Cerf, a Google vice president told reporters that "if the legislators insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If they do not put it in, we will be less happy but then we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse." Google, like many other content-driven companies -- including Microsoft -- support net neutrality. "My company, along with many others believes that the Internet should stay open and accessible to everyone equally."

Several communications and network companies including Cisco, oppose net neutrality simply because their business is based on network control and bandwidth. Last week, DailyTech reported that the net neutrality debate received two new proposals from two groups. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the New Yorkers for Fair Use both offered their own proposals on how net neutrality should be handled. Both of the groups offered similar views, saying that US legislators should distinguish the Internet from other types of networks. Tiered networks would be okay as long as the Internet itself remained neutral, said both groups.

Although several major telcos have said that the government and companies like Google are concerned over nothing, many companies supporting net neutrality say that given the chance, large telcos would create tiered networks in a heart beat. Without a neutrality bill protecting equal Internet access, Google fears that fair competition would be stifled and prices would soar.

"We are worried that some of the broadband service providers will interfere with that principle and will attempt to use their control over broadband transport facilities to interfere with services of competitors," said Cert.

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RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By masher2 on 7/5/2006 9:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
> "Any sites that couldn’t or wouldn’t pay would be in trouble because users wouldn’t get access to them as quickly..."

In other words-- exactly the situation we have today. Sites which can't afford the bandwith run slower.

It's not quite as common today, but in the early 90s, it was the status quo, especially since so many commercial sites were hosted on painfully slow frame relay and ISDN lines.

And you know what? People still flocked to those sites; they didn't bypass them to only visit the "fast lane".

RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By RandomFool on 7/5/2006 10:41:12 AM , Rating: 2
What's different from today is this would add another layer and you'd have to pay for hosting bandwidth and telco bandwidth.

What happens when a small slow lane site starts to get big and google/microsoft/aol/yahoo come out with a very similar idea? Now the small site needs to spend more on hosting AND get in fast lane to stay competitive?

Today's internet is very different from the early 90s, people are impatient and if there's a faster, better site out there they'll switch to that no problem. Just look at all the frendsters and myspaces out there.

RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By masher2 on 7/5/2006 11:07:08 AM , Rating: 3
> "Today's internet is very different from the early 90s, people are impatient "

What sort of nonsense is this? People are no more or less impatient than they were in the 90s.

The issue here is pretty simple. Advanced services require need hardware and firmware; to deploy these services costs billions. With a tiered network, the people that actually use these services pay those costs, and subsidize their deployment for the rest of us. With net neutrality we all pay those costs...which means it won't happen at all, until the cost of deployment is so low as to be neglible...delaying the entry of new services for years or even decades.

The fact is, "mom and pop" sites have always run slower than those from a corporate giant...that is, if they have any significant load on them. A next-gen tiered Internet actually promises to be the best thing for such small sites. Tiered delivery drives the cost of the lower tiers down further. In this case, likely all the way to zero. Free. High-priority services pay the bills...low priority service are given away free, in the hopes of attracting new business. Now my mom-and-pop site loads just as fast as it always did...but it doesn't cost me anything whatsoever. If it becomes a big hit, I can pay extra, and have it load faster still. The free market at work.

I understand that, for some poeple, the warm-and-fuzzy socialistic vision of an Internet where a penny can buy you as much speed and bandwidth as million dollars is attractive. But low-latency services such as HD videoconferencing and remote teleoperation will never happen...not when their packets are legally compelled to have no more priority than quadrillions of bytes of spam email.

RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By RandomFool on 7/5/2006 11:39:46 AM , Rating: 2
The users of today's Internet are vastly different from the 90s, today every teenager, grandparent and joe-schmo can get on and surf around the internet. If something is taking to long they’re very likely to just give up and click close.

I think one of the bigger issues is whether anything will get cheaper if the tiered networks are employed or if it'll just get more expensive for anyone who wants the fast lane. Sure, in theory, things could get cheaper but if a company has an opportunity to make more money are they going to take it? Probably. You can get free hosting now but look how bad most of it is, a tiered solution could become much like that where sure there’s free services out there but if you want to do anything useful you’ve got to pay for it.

You’ve got a good point tiered systems could work really well but it is just a matter of who's involved and what their ultimate motives are and right now I just don’t see tiered service working. To many companies and people are involved most of whom are looking at their wallets wondering how to make it just a little thicker.

RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By masher2 on 7/5/2006 12:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
> "If something is taking to long they’re very likely to just give up and click close."

I have a bridge for sale to anyone who believes a new ultrabandwidth low-latency service is suddenly going to make existing sites load slower. And I have a small nation in Africa for sale to anyone who believes that an ISP who attempted to degrade service would be able to stay in business.

Tiered networks is about adding new higher-speed services on top of existing ones. Not downgrading existing services...which, of course, ISPs are already free to do.

> "Sure, in theory, things could get cheaper but if a company has an opportunity to make more money are they going to take it?"

Poor logic. A company always has the opportunity to "make more money" by raising their prices. Why don't they do so? Competition. If a telco raises additional funds through selling higher-priced services, they have headroom to lower prices on everything else. If they don't do so-- their competitors will, and undercut them from the market. This is why all prices in the high-tech world descend over time.

RE: What's wrong with Tiered Networks?
By RMTimeKill on 7/5/2006 4:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
This is the same logic that kept gas and electric prices lower also right? At least is sure sounds like it, tiered networks are supposed to help lower our costs... deregulating gas prices was supposed to help increase competition and drive prices down, same with energy costs... Did it work? no... so why would this work? Dont we learn from history? >.<

By masher2 on 7/5/2006 4:51:54 PM , Rating: 4
> "This is the same logic that kept gas and electric prices lower also right? "

I'm not quite sure to what you're referring. The electric industry remains one of the most highly regulated ones in the nation; competition is prevented, and prices are set by government oversight boards. In the case of California, their so-called "deregulation" was anything but.

As for "gas", if you mean gasoline, the industry has never been regulated. And as a result, prices are unbelievably cheap. Gasoline produced from oil pumped from thousands of feet underground, shipped halfway around the world, and refined in multi-billion dollar facilities is cheaper than milk pumped out of your local cow, a few miles down the road. And- had we in the US allowed any new refineries to be built since the 1970s, would be even cheaper still. Its a bit hard to meet current demand with a rickety network of plants all 30-40 years old.

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