Google Quietly Argues Broadband Competition, Google Fiber Build Out Could Be Aided By Title II

from the the-sky-will-not-fall dept

While Google has been notably quiet on net neutrality as its lobbyists work to cultivate broader bi-partisan favor, the search giant broke that silence last week to file a comment with the FCC giving its thoughts on Title II. While the larger ISPs have (falsely) proclaimed repeatedly that the sky will fall, investment will drop and market innovation will collapse if strong Title-II based rules are passed, Google's filing with the FCC (pdf) takes a somewhat different tone.

While Google's filing never specifically throws its support behind Title II, it does specifically point out how Title II rules could come with some significant benefits. Specifically, Google's director of communications law Austin Schlick argues that as a freshly-regulated telecom service under Title II, Google would gain access to utility poles and other essential utility infrastructure to aid expansion of Google Fiber. While the FCC has the right to forbear from these provisions, Google argues they really shouldn't if they value improved broadband services:
"In determining whether forbearance is consistent with the public interest, the Commission must consider whether forbearance would "promote competitive market conditions, including the extent to which such forbearance will enhance competition among providers of telecommunications services." Forbearance from allowing BIAS providers access to available infrastructure under Section 224 would have the exact opposite effect, maintaining a substantial barrier to network deployment by new providers such as Google Fiber, that telecommunications classification otherwise would remove."
Bureaucratic pole attachment rights negotiations are already sometimes annoyingly cumbersome, but they're also one of many ways incumbent ISPs thwart competitive efforts. Municipal broadband efforts in Utah, for example, were hindered by a litany of Qwest (now CenturyLink) lawsuits aimed at blocking local community ISP Utopia from having access to the company's poles. In Austin, where AT&T owns around 20% of the city's utility poles, Google Fiber ran into some initial obstacles getting pole attachment rights because AT&T argued Google wasn't officially a telecom company.

This is a relatively big deal, in that while Google beats around the bush somewhat to avoid ruffling feathers, it's noting how Title II ISP classification could actually be used to help break open the stubborn broadband duopoly to improved broadband competition. Note that's in fairly stark contrast to all of the hand-wringing from ISPs and friends who claim Title II will only harm the sector. More than a few Title II opponents have also gone on ad nauseum about how we should really focus on reducing bureaucratic obstacles like pole attachment issues, when it's Title II that Google argues would accomplish this most effectively.
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Filed Under: broadband, competition, fcc, google fiber, pole attachments, title ii
Companies: google


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:32am

    To be completely fair, Title II shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of these communications with the FCC: it should be one of a great raft of measures designed to open up and shatter the duopolies across the vast majority of the US for cable and actual broadband data speeds.

    For example, last-mile loop unbundling would allow competitors to access the last mile infrastructure without building out their own, which saves economic damages caused by additional roadworks delays whilst the new cabling is placed; or enforcing neutral access rights under Title II helps companies like Google Fiber in this case, but will also help other companies produce growth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      To be completely fair, Title II shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of these communications with the FCC: it should be one of a great raft of measures designed to open up and shatter the duopolies across the vast majority of the US for cable and actual broadband data speeds.

      Very true.

      Senator Elizabeth Warren has gotten a lot of press lately for boldly, bluntly stating in sessions of Congress that the largest banks are actively harmful and need to be broken up. She's right, but I'd add that they aren't the only ones. Major telecom companies, Comcast in particular, belong on the same list.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:50am

    Google would gain access to utility polls

    poles?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 11:59am

    if the chance is there, the people should be able to vote on what way they want the broadband service to go, whether they want competition, as it should lead to better services and cheaper rates. also, with the introduction of Google fiber, the stranglehold held by Comcast, AT&T and Verizon should be weakened and should show even more certainly what would happen with the purchase of TWC! the FCC should be running round like headless chickens trying to claw Google's hands off and delving right into the wallet! this is probably the only time for decades that this chance will be there. embrace it! if it means law suits, just to protect companies that suffer from pathetic customer services along with pathetic services, so be it. doing nothing to try to get the USA off the lowest level of the world broadband market will be more criminal. countries looked on as being '3rd world' have better services than here. not bad for what is supposed to be, at least in it's own eyes, the top nation on the planet!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 12:16pm

    I would say Google is right. I've read in articles where Google was running into this problem in trying to set up in new places.

    The really telling factor is as soon as Google shows up and starts doing work to make it happen, suddenly those telcoms that couldn't be bothered to make the customer happy were suddenly concerned about them. Willing to make better deals out of the goodness of their hearts, by increasing speeds and cutting prices. It's such BS you can spot it a mile off. Were that really the case, they didn't have to wait till Google was there to do so. No, they did it because they were forced by competition to do so. The one thing that is lacking in most of the US and the very reason why Comcast should not be allowed the merger with Time Warner. Put two terrible ISPs together and it will not equal one good one. It's the mindset that makes it guaranteed to be a mess.

    Regulating all the telcoms with title II makes a lot of good sense. That last mile was paid for by taxpayers and the government just basically handed it over allowing another major blockage to competition. It is time to break this strangle hold.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 12:38pm

      Re:

      Right after my area qualified for Google Fiber, TWC was calling twice a day to ensure I was satisfied with my service, offered me all kinds of one-year deals, and at the end findly kucked off when I told them it was too late, I was already seeing someone else, and would leave their stuff in a box on the porch.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 5 Jan 2015 @ 1:04pm

        Re: Re:

        "TWC was calling twice a day"

        Any company that calls me twice per day (or at all) to ask if I am satisfied is a company that I am immediately unsatisfied with. Phone calls these days (even with my closest friends) only happen when something is incredibly time-critical or an emergency. In every other circumstance, it's a text or email.

        If a company wants to know how satisfied I am, they should send me an email. Do not call. And especially don't call more than once.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Jan 2015 @ 2:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...Any company that calls me twice per day...


          (in the voice of Mr. Rogers)


          Can you say harrassment?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 1:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I abhor companies that send tons of mails too. If I have a problem I just need an open and effective channel with the company, not constant annoyances.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:04am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh yes, I agree. I will tolerate an occasional "how are we doing" email, but I won't tolerate frequent or marketing emails. When I get those and can't stop them, then the company goes on my spam list.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2015 @ 9:42am

        Re: Re:

        Me too.

        I'm in Austin and ATT has been bombarding me with "upgrade to high-speed Uverse" crapola. Since the Google announcement, it started as big expensive mail pieces every two to three weeks.

        Then I got 4 pretty damn deceptive calls in 5 days - the sales pitch was that ATT "needs" to upgrade me due to infrastructure changes. They phrased it such that the non-technical crowd would hear "my service will go obsolete and stop working if I don't upgrade", without actually saying that. I asked the 4th sales person if my service would stop working, many times, and she had 4 or 5 scripted replies that didn't answer the question. When she started recycling answers, I started immediately re-asking the question as soon as the non-answer was apparent, while she was still speaking. I finally told her I didn't want anymore ATT sales calls, and hung up. That stopped the bombardment, though we've gotten a couple more calls with different pitches since.

        More recently, with Google starting to sign up folks in another part of town, ATT has picked up the pace of mailers (and spam emails) and is offering a $400 "cash back" offer for an upgrade. It might be profitable for someone to take the offer then drop service later, but I have no interest in risking a screwup, both the wife and I depend on the home internet for our income.

        They've also unilaterally changed my TOS to give then the right to involuntarily "upgrade" me at no cost with 30 days notice. I'm hoping Google gets to my side of town before ATT screws me over.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 6 Jan 2015 @ 8:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If they're that focused on getting people to 'upgrade', I can't help but think that the 'upgrade' will come with some hefty strings attached, likely along the lines of forcing you to stay with them for a certain amount of time as part of the 'deal'.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Sheogorath (profile), 7 Jan 2015 @ 12:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          They've also unilaterally changed my TOS to give then the right to involuntarily "upgrade" me at no cost with 30 days notice.
          What I would do in this scenario is get on the phone and tell them to remove that provision or you'll leave for Google Fiber. If they say the provision is in the contract by virtue of being in the ToS, point out that it's one-sided, doesn't have your agreement, and no consideration has been offered by them in light of the fact that they can arbitrarily switch you over to a more expensive 'service'. Then when Google Fiber finally rolls out to your side of town, you move anyway on the basis that AT&T has proven how little it cares about its customers during its attempts to retain them. Simples!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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