Google, Apple, Yahoo: Call The Telcos' Bluff

from the tell-'em-to-go-away dept

People keep submitting to us the story that's making the rounds about BellSouth saying it's "pursuing discussions" with internet companies to charge them extra for preferential treatment on their network. We didn't post it because it's not new. The same guy said the exact same thing a month and a half ago. We're not sure why his repetition is newsworthy on its own. Nowhere does it say that Google, Apple, Yahoo or any others are playing along with this -- which actually would be news. However, instead of just hoping that these companies recognize what a dangerous precedent this would set, it's time that people call them out and tell them to call the telcos' bluff publicly. Jeff Pulver is leading the charge with a direct appeal to Google's Eric Schmidt that he tell BellSouth (and the others, we presume) to take a hike. Even more directly, Pulver suggests that if BellSouth pesters them about it, simply stop allowing BellSouth customers to reach Google -- and see how long BellSouth keeps saying that Google needs to pay them. The reason the telcos have so many DSL customers is because of the valuable services that companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo and others provide. It's time the telcos realize that they're not the ones in the power seat here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    identicon
    Sv, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 4:42am

    Power

    You say Telcos are not in the power seat and you'd be right. Neither is Google, Yahoo and the other providers. Neither are the customers.
    It's just a careful balance where everyone obtains his benefits.
    Providers may want to charge telcos because they bring them clients.
    Telcos may want to charge providers for using their clients.
    Clients may want free service because they cause the providers to pay the telcos.
    Either way it's working fine as it is right now. If someone wants to break the balance, well they are just about enough OTHER isp's who won't.

     

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      MissingFrame, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 9:15am

      Re: Power

      I agree it's a careful balance. The problem is that Google, Yahoo and whatever would have to band together, because if they shut off Google only, Yahoo would simply take over. Remember, most of the people don't know the difference, especially the ones that sign up for services with limitations built-in.

       

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    abolishthedevil, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 5:07am

    Preferential Treatment

    I've seen this mentioned other places. Is BellSouth actually giving Google and others preferential treatment on their networks (i.e. their customers can access Google faster than some small site)? I guess I could see their reasoning if they wanted to charge for that kind of treatment. But if they want to charge Google just for existing on the internet as they do, then they need to realize that not only will this not hold up in court, but they don't have any leverage against Google. It's not like they can just block Google from their customers. Bellsouth may be dumb, but they're not THAT dumb.

     

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    mike, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 5:45am

    No Subject Given

    Cant google just start buying them, spin them off as wholly owned subsidaries, and then firing the nuts who want to bill them?

     

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      I see it all, Jan 19th, 2006 @ 2:51am

      Re: No Subject Given

      I like that buy them out then fire the nut jobs. Even more make life miserable for them. any where they go buy that company out and fire them again. :)

       

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    Jme, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Bellsouth has the FCC on it's side, don't they?

    So we're hosed.

     

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      walking.dude, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 7:44am

      Re: Bellsouth has the FCC on it's side, don't they

      Just because a company can do something doesn't mean they will or even should. BellSouth certainly has a right to charge for preferential treatment. But they won't do it. Not for data services, anyway. I fully expect them to start it for competing VoIP, though.

       

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    Jim Pearson, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 9:01am

    Interestingly enough, this is not a new or short-t

    The Telcos have been trying to figure out a profitable business model - in the face of a rapidly-changing information and networking world. Their traditional MO has been to charge for finite, measurable things like simple POTS phone calls, POTS long distance calls, information calls, etc.
    Now, the Telcos are beset with a double-whammy: Their primary income source (mentioned above) is now a simple commodity, and flat-rate pricing is the competitive norm; The Internet has changed everything about how services and information are exchanged - especially when one considers that the simplistic measurability of the past is no longer present.
    Telcos have been lining up quality-of-service equipment, throttling equipment, measurement equipment, and devices that separate different types of data - for a very long time. They have long felt that their business model will depend on being able to charge by type of service, or some other measurable aspect of what is crossing their wires.
    How will they stay profitable? Only time will tell. There will be quite a bit of vacillation for a good while about stories like these. There is much at stake, but so much uncharted territory in the Telco's worlds right now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 9:45am

    No Subject Given

    I suppose that if they want to systematically devalue their own infrastructure, that is their own business – but without data traveling down their “pipes” – the “pipes” are just holes in the ground.

    So – go ahead – boot the data off.

    Some one else will come along behind you and purchase you and your “pipes” for the lower than dirt price you set for them and make billions by turning the data back on.

     

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    ftc, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 10:28am

    Will GOOG care?

    Just suppose that Google and the others see this as a wonderful way to cement their own standing on the web and make it too expensive for startups without their big bankrolls to get a foot in the door. They might not like to pay a fee to the telco's, but they can afford it; many competitors can't. If the cost of entry into the game is high enough, then others will be less likely to follow. How many MIT sophmores can you shut out with a single fee?

     

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    Tyson, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 10:54am

    back to Dial-up?

    Once I got a high-speed connection, I swore I would not go back to dial-up access. However, if all this talk becomes a reality and broadband providers start blocking customers from websites that refuse to pay or vise versa, website refusing traffic from certain broadband providers; I might have a really good reason to switch back to my slow dial-up account. Wouldnt that suck?

     

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      Garfiode, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 11:41am

      Re: back to Dial-up?

      Many of us have so many things going now days that we need highspeed for. If my high speed is down i'm stuck

       

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      bjc (profile), Mar 26th, 2006 @ 8:46am

      Re: back to Dial-up?

      Going back to dial-up would suck for you, but your Telco would come out ahead:
      -you would be required to maintain a POTS line to support your dial-up - you could never switch to VOIP
      -you could only use negligible bandwidth
      -you would be using a slot on gear they paid off at least ten years ago. Pure profit for them.
      -you would either have to buy a second phone line or use your cel to make calls while dialed-up. More telco profit.

      Switching back to dial-up would be the worst thing you could do.

      I am hoping WiMax will cause a revival of free-nets and not-for-profit internet access cooperatives. If the 500 families in my neighbourhood got together and bought a T3 or something and put a WiMax rig on a nearby tall building we could be ISP-free and probably still pay less.

       

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    QuantumMechanic, Jan 18th, 2006 @ 5:46pm

    hhhmmm

    Screw the US telcos I'd buy my way on the internet from a foreign Telco.

     

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    TR, May 26th, 2006 @ 12:03am

    Where there's a will (and a buck) there's a way

    Not knowing any of this discussion was going on, the other day I asked my ISP if I could pay a little extra to get preferential treatment from their servers, as my dial-up connection speed was suffering. This leads me to believe that, if there are people willing to pay for preferential treatment, that there will be those happy to find a way to oblige.

     

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    gooroogirl, Jul 22nd, 2006 @ 6:45am

    google went down on bellsouth dsl

    The strangest thing happened last night - access to google, gmail and cnn went down last night, tho yahoo and other sites were still accessible. Others not on bellsouth dsl could still access google. Could it possibly be that google actually followed through? Tried to get through to bellsouth tech help, but at 1:00 am they were "experiencing larger than normal wait times." hmmmmmm.....

     

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