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
    googly_eyes, 31 Oct 2005 @ 9:14am

    RTFA

    Ok folks, this isn't /. here, did any of you read the article?

    He was referring to Google AS AN ISP (hint all you folks who mentioned Google's free wireless internet forays almost hit the mark)

    It's the same rhetoric about other ISP's like SpeakEasy and Covad - ISP's who use SBC's (tax-payer subsidized) copper to provide service to customers, but didn't used to have to worry about SBC extorting them.

    He's simply saying that Google can't expect to get their internet pipe for free, so they are going to have to pay SBC (or any other backbone carrier) to offer their free wireless.

    He's still an overpaid exec, and not to be trusted, but he's not saying they will cut off web access to any web sites, and the FCC is still asleep at the wheel over this issue.


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