SBC: We Own The Internet, So Google Should Pay Up

from the uh-oh.--trouble-coming. dept

It's become pretty clear that Kevin Martin's FCC has no problem considering "competition" in the broadband space to mean incumbent telcos vs. incumbent cable companies. So far, the FCC has done just about everything possible to make it much harder for any third parties to get into the game. So is it really any surprise to hear the CEO of SBC, Ed Whitacre, in an interview suggest that it's only a matter of time before they start going after any of the services that make the internet useful to try to make them pay up to remain reachable? When asked about companies like Google, Yahoo and Vonage, he says: "Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!" In other words, he's talking about going well beyond blocking some ports like BellSouth, to actually blocking out websites and services unless they first pay SBC a fee. It certainly has the feel of extortion: pay up or no one on our network will be able to reach your website. If you thought that mess Level 3 and Cogent was problematic, just wait until you can't access Google from SBC, because Google fails to pay up SBC's "connection" fees. What Whitacre seems to be forgetting is that it's all of these services and the ability to connect that makes the internet access worthwhile. Now who was just saying that network neutrality wasn't needed? Notice that the only reason this is possible now is because there's less competition in the broadband space, not more. If there were real competition, SBC would never even dare to suggest that they might cut off a Google, Yahoo or Vonage.

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  1. identicon
    ChronoFish, 31 Oct 2005 @ 5:51am

    SBC: The New Evil

    (I've posted a responce on my blog: blog.chronofish.com)

    Just in time for Halloween:

    From Business Week: At SBC, It's All About "Scale and Scope"
    How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google (GOOG ), MSN, Vonage, and others? How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO ) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!


    What Mr. Whitacre doesn't realize is that the "pipes" are what his already paying customers are using to get to sites like Google. Charging Google for access to customers makes as much sense as United Airlines charging Florida for tourist. Mr. Whitacre has to answer is this: If I can't get to Google through SBC, but I can through his rival - why in the world would I use SBC? And if a rival doesn't exist (aka Monopoly) then charging on "both ends" is definate grounds for government intervention. This has large implications: see my previous post (Copy Cat Yourself to Democracy as once again the large corporations can dictate what you see and who can see you. If SBC can act like China because of financial reasons - then what is to stop them from acting like China for political reasons? I encourage you to keep an I on this - I know I will be.


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