Getting net-jacked by Google and Verizon

I’ve been watching this whole Google and Verizon lovefest that is going on but decided to hold off having my say until the inevitable disclaimer post from Google showed up and good to form it showed up on the Public Policy blog today.

I have to admit that it is a beautiful bit of spin doctoring and is sure to appease the real die-hard Google believers, as evidenced by some of the comments, but that is all it is – spin. However the points that Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, tries to make with the tried and true Myth vs. Fact format provide a good jumping off point.

MYTH: Google has “sold out” on network neutrality.

FACT: Google has been the leading corporate voice on the issue of network neutrality over the past five years. No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet.

But given political realities, this particular issue has been intractable in Washington for several years now. At this time there are no enforceable protections – at the Federal Communications Commission or anywhere else – against even the worst forms of carrier discrimination against Internet traffic.

The key wording to keep in mind from the first sentence of the Fact part – “Google has been the leading …”.

Remember this is a lawyer spinning the puke inducing pablum here and they are always, always, percise in their wording. He didn’t say “Google is the leading ….” because that would imply that the company is still a supporter but using has been still gives semantic wiggle room to make it appear as if the company is still a supporter. Like I said this is lawyer speak here and they always say exactly what needs to be said to keep them within the letter of the law.

The next section is a nice abdication of any current, or future, sense of responsibility or obligation to keep up any pretense that they are anything but a global corporation that needs to put their bottom line ahead of anything else. Of course nothing accomplishes this better than to shift the blame to the government – the same government that previous was condemn for even the slightest move to meddle in t heir affairs or profit margins via things like net neutrality.

An interesting side note to this as well is the fact that Google trotted out a telecom lawyer to try and gloss over this so-call policy proposal. Why, as noted by Tom Foremski, isn’t Vint Cerf out in front of this dog and pony show. After all he is the father of the Internet and touted as Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist. One would think that if this proposal really was a good thing for us and the Internet then Father Vint would be out there beating the drums yet all we have is – silence.

MYTH: This proposal represents a step backwards for the open Internet.

FACT: If adopted, this proposal would for the first time give the FCC the ability to preserve the open Internet through enforceable rules on broadband providers. At the same time, the FCC would be prohibited from imposing regulations on the Internet itself.

Here are some of the tangible benefits in our joint legislative proposal:

  • Newly enforceable FCC standards
  • Prohibitions against blocking or degrading wireline Internet traffic
  • Prohibition against discriminating against wireline Internet traffic in ways that harm users or competition
  • Presumption against all forms of prioritizing wireline Internet traffic
  • Full transparency across wireline and wireless broadband platforms
  • Clear FCC authority to adjudicate user complaints, and impose injunctions and fines against bad actors

Verizon has agreed to voluntarily abide by these same requirements going forward – another first for a major communications provider. We hope this action will convince other broadband companies to follow suit.

Enforceable rules? Isn’t this the very thing that the purveyors of “the free market will level everything out” retards have been arguing against. You know, companies like Google, Verizon and just about anybody else involved with providing the Web. So why all of a sudden is giving the FCC a set of teeth that will actually be able to do anything the solution?

As Fred Wilson wrote in a post this morning

In the past ten years, the on ramp to the Internet has changed. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of dial-up providers have been replaced in the US by a handful of broadband providers with local duopolies. And we now have a wireless Internet in the US with an on ramp controlled largely by four carriers (two of which have the dominant market share). And these access providers have invested heavily in packet detection systems that will allow them to use their dominant positions to “manage their networks”.

So now we have a situation where the access providers want to change the game. And they are seeking the regulatory approval to do just that.

This section of the Google post is were we also see the terminology wireline and wireless which of course is a distinction that Google and the broadband providers desperately need to make and con us into believing represent two different types of Internet traffic. Well there’s two problems with this, the first is the idea that a wireless Internet is somehow different that a wireline Internet.

Sorry but the Internet is the Internet. It’s all the same one’s and zero’s that don’t care how they are being transmitted. How you access that Internet might vary but there is not two distinctly different Internets.

The real ridiculousness though is that we are being led to believe that because the wireless access of the Internet is so fragile that the two main players in this part of the access game feel they need to be able to manage the traffic that flows over those wireless connections. There’s only one problem with this – it’s a bullshit argument because any management happens long before those one’s and zero’s reach local wireless transmitters.

Or as Tom Foremski puts it

But this is a bullshit argument. Internet traffic has to prioritized on the backbones and local networks before it gets to the local wireless transmitters therefore it will be available in a prioritized order to local wireline consumers too.

You catch that?

Ya … wirelined service would end up with the exact same management of traffic.

MYTH: This proposal would eliminate network neutrality over wireless.

FACT: It’s true that Google previously has advocated for certain openness safeguards to be applied in a similar fashion to what would be applied to wireline services. However, in the spirit of compromise, we have agreed to a proposal that allows this market to remain free from regulation for now, while Congress keeps a watchful eye.

Why? First, the wireless market is more competitive than the wireline market, given that consumers typically have more than just two providers to choose from.

Comprise – the famous last words for corporations like Google which usually end up meaning screw the consumer. The thing is, Google didn’t need to compromise with anyone let alone Verizon, especially under the lame pretense that Congress would keep a watch eye on things. This is a Congress after all where the telecoms probably own contribute to more Senators, Congressmen and Representatives than we even know about.

As for the competitive nature of the broadband providing market – give your head a shake. If Google truly believes this they’ve been drinking more of the Darth Vader kool-aid than I previously thought. Sorry, but they cannot be that freakin naive. As Fred Wilson noted, and I quoted above, the wireless market is controlled by four carriers out of which two of them have dominant market share. There is no competition and every bill you get, every phone you sign up for, proves this.

With this move Google has finally given up its do no evil mantra, even if they don’t think so, in exchanged for a preferential and easy road with the broadband providers. Ryan Singel at Epicenter writes:

The thing about surrendering is that it only keeps going.

But Google doesn’t care. By surrendering — and by surrendering, I mean, giving up the fight it claimed to be waging on your behalf for open wireless networks — it wins billions of dollars in online, mobile ad revenues.

As a result, openness in the mobile market is no longer in Google’s best interest.

Google likes to take jabs at Apple’s closed iPhone system, as Google exec Vic Gundotra did at Google’s I/O developer conference this spring. But that’s just a rhetorical sideshow.

Just as this whole post of lawyer spin-doctoring is really nothing more than a sideshow meant to pacify those who still believe that Google can do no wrong. Unfortunately though Google has decided that a version of the Internet that can let them prop up a business that is showing definite signs of age is more important than supporting a truly open Internet.

It may only be those of us in the tech business that will really be concerned over this shift but in the end this will affect everyone and change the Web as we know it.