Google Tries, But Fails, To Outline A Vision For Net Neutrality

from the come-again dept

Unfortunately, the debate over net neutrality has mainly been filled with nonsensical blather from both sides, rather than serious discussion on the issue. This may be due, in part, to the lack of a good understanding of what net neutrality would actually look like. On its new blog related to public policy, Google makes its case for net neutrality, enumerating what would and wouldn’t be allowed under such a regime. But as Tim Lee points out, even within this one blog post, Google’s stance is incoherent. For example, the company defends prioritization based on application type (e.g. streaming video) and it acknowledges the right of a broadband provider to offer its own proprietary content (like IPTV). But based on this, there’s nothing stopping a broadband provider from giving the lowest priority to streaming video in order to prevent competition to its own service. Also, because proprietary content services are allowed, an operator could just license a third party’s content, as a way of getting around limitations on favoritism. Basically, under Google’s own scheme, there’s really very little to prevent a broadband provider from prioritizing content in any way they want. So perhaps we need to go easier on the various shill groups that obfuscate the issues, since even rational participants can’t explain their position very well.

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Comments on “Google Tries, But Fails, To Outline A Vision For Net Neutrality”

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Michael says:

Free Market

I don’t understand what the big deal is, I mean if my ISP suddenly throttled content that I want to see, I would immediately dump my ISP and find one that I can get my preferred content through unthrottled. If these companies want to undermine their customer access to content, they are going to lose business. Example: Rogers cable in Canada started packet shaping to restrict bandwidth on torrent use, so I immediately switched to a local DSL provider that doesn’t engage in such practices, and I no longer have the problem. The way I see it the more we regulate things the worse they get. Let the business’s decide there own practices and then the customers will decide who gets their money. I’m a little pissed off that any of my tax money pays for poloticians to blather about these non issues in the first place.

js says:

Re: Free Market

Wow, it sounds pretty easy since there is this healthy competitive market for broadband, users can just pick the best of the bunch.

I live in Philadelphia which is a Comcast town. If Comcast starts shaping traffic and degrading my experience in favor of whatever their ‘preferred content’ turns out to be, I’ll just dump them and get…um…not get online anymore. At least once I stop spending time online I’ll have more time to reflect on the beautifully rational US free market system.

In the US, we’re still waiting for ‘real’ broadband like other civilized countries have (where both up and down speeds are measured in Mbps). Seems a little early to start arbitrarily degrading the end-user’s experience of competitor’s content.

@Joe Weisenthal:
I’m not sure what you find so incoherent about “Prioritizing all applications of a certain general type, such as streaming video” and “Providing managed IP services and proprietary content (like IPTV)” both being “okay” in Google’s book (direct quotes from the Google link). They seem to be plainly saying, if you are giving priority on the network to video, you have to do it for all video generally and not on a provider by provider basis.

Alex says:

Re: Free Market

The problem is when you have a small town in which there is only one or two ISP’s for cable internet. How do you prevent them from combining forces for the sake of profit? In a large town what you said works, but not for the little guys. And that’s who we protect by making these rules and regulations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why does any of this matter? It is irrelevant.

Here is the only question to ask yourself:

Are you getting what you were promised, and what you paid for? Then who cares what kind of prioritization they do?

If you do not take any extra services from your ISP, then youll still get all the bandwidth you were promised–or else theyre violating their agreement with you.

I would be ok with the ISP setting aside 50% of your bandwidth for DEDICATED FAST LANES for their own IPTV and VOIP services–IF they doubled our total available bandwidth at the same time.

Well, hell, they already do that! The bulk of the bandwidth on your cable line is consumed by TV services theyre trying to sell you. Absent those they could give you tons more bandwidth.

This is what defines good behavior and bad behavior, according to me: if youre getting what you paid for, while the options are not limited in a way which destroys the vitality of the market by stifling our ability to choose and pay for vitality, then whatever stupid stuff your ISP does is OK. Who cares! I don’t have roadrunner’s browser extensions “provided by roadrunner” and system checking and housecall bullcrap installed.. I dont take their cable TV service.. who cares! I pay for my premium tier of Internet, and for gods sake it’s _INDISPENSABLE_ I would pay five times as much for ten times less if that was my only choice, and still count it a bargain.

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