August 22, 2006 1:30 PM PDT

Google defends Net neutrality regulations

ASPEN, Colo.--A Google executive said on Tuesday that entrepreneurs creating new start-ups could be thwarted unless Congress enacts extensive laws imposing Net neutrality regulations on broadband providers.

"I'm not worried so much about Google in this regard," David Drummond, Google's general counsel, said at a 90-minute debate organized here by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. "I'm worried about the small innovators at the edge of the networks."

In the mid-1990s, when company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were creating what would become the world's most popular search engine, Drummond said they "didn't think about who we had to talk to on the network to make sure users could use the Google search engine."

"This is pre-garage," Drummond said about the period. "These guys are in a dorm room...Are we going to go worldwide and talk to carriers everywhere to cut deals?"

Google has been at the forefront of the Net neutrality debate, lobbying politicians in Washington to enact laws granting the Federal Communications Commission the power to regulate broadband providers. Those proposals have been embraced by Democrats but largely opposed by Republicans and large telecommunications companies including AT&T and Verizon. (The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the matter later this year.)

While the concept of Net neutrality has varying definitions, it means at least that no Web sites or services should be blocked by broadband providers. Amazon.com, Google, eBay, Yahoo and some other Internet companies would like to extend that definition to prohibit broadband providers from entering into deals that would, for instance, let video from one Web site stream faster than another. Another debate is whether the FCC or the Federal Trade Commission should police violations.


David Drummond,
general counsel,
Google

During Tuesday's debate, Carolyn Brandon, vice president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, said that Google's lobbying "reflects an underlying insecurity" in its product and perhaps a fear that telecommunications companies will create "a better search engine."

"Why a lack of faith in your product?" Brandon asked.

"I see no logical connection between our position on Net neutrality and some competitive concern about our search engine and network operators," Google's Drummond replied. "Where you're getting that I'm not sure."

For their part, network operators have steadfastly pledged not to prevent customers from visiting certain Web sites or using certain services like voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). "We're not going to block access to any Web sites," said James Cicconi, senior executive vice president at AT&T. "All of our customers would have access to that Web site."

Instead, they say, the returns from high-speed video are what will drive investment in faster networks.

Extensive Net neutrality regulations create "additional risks" that stifle investment, Cicconi said, adding that AT&T will only spend more on its networks if the economics work out. "We could take that money and put it into wireless. We could buy Burger King. We could put it into certificates of deposit and get a predictable rate of return."

Some audience members and executives from AT&T and Bell Canada accused Google of entering into the same kind of preferential deals.

One charge was that eBay (which owns PayPal) has blocked Google's payment system from being used on its own site. "There's lots of choices out there," Drummond said in response. "It's a different market. It's an entirely different market."

An audience member charged that Google's deal with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications to integrate the search company's Blogger and Web search features into mobile phones violates Net neutrality rules. It lets Google's search option appear faster than its rivals.

Tod Cohen, eBay's deputy general counsel, said he'd "like to hear" how that is consistent with Google's position on Net neutrality.

"We're not sure the wireless world is quite the same," Drummond replied. "This may be where we part company with you guys."

Earlier on Tuesday, Qwest's chairman blasted companies like Google, Amazon.com and Yahoo that have pressed Congress for extensive Net neutrality regulations.

Richard Notebaert, Qwest Communications' chairman and chief executive, accused large search engine companies of hypocrisy for complaining about Internet filtering by broadband providers--while doing it themselves.

He called it "hogwash" for companies "to talk about blocking, when they're in fact the ones doing blocking, not in this country but in other countries."

Notebaert cited a recent Amnesty International report that accused Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo of hypocrisy for their censored search results China.

"With no facts, no proof, and innuendo again," Internet companies are lobbying for Net neutrality rules, "all to put certain content providers in a better position," Notebaert said. He claimed it was "preposterous" to believe "that companies like Qwest would block or even consider degrading service."

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8 comments

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Regardless OF Intentions- Google Is Right!
How does net neutrality stifle competition, reduce incentive, and discourage investment? There is not one demonstratable piece of evidence that this is true yet we hear it repeated over and over by industry mouthpieces as a given. If these companies won't risk further investment in their networks unless they are free to "game" the system then so be it! In time newer technologies and players may surpass them and actually bring about real competition, not the current ersatz variety.
Another disingenious tactic used by opponents of net neutrality is to throw out comparisons to other industries and claim why shouldn't neutrality apply there. One small example- I can choose between between a half dozen wireless cellphone providers but have NO choice if I want broadband internet! Phone companies are not allowed to degrade, prioritize, or block calls from other carriers so why should they feel the need to do so on their broadband networks? Oh, that's right, they "promised" not to engage in discriminatory behavior. So why the objection to legislation that prohibits what they aren't going to engage in anyway? Broadband service is essentially a utility and needs to be regulated against abuse until the time we really and truly have a widespread competitive broadband market in this country.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Telecoms Build a better Search engine..Hahahahaha
My favorite Quote:

"reflects an underlying insecurity" in its product and perhaps a fear that telecommunications companies will create "a better search engine."

Hahahahahahahahahahaahaha!!!

"Innovative Telecom" is an oxymoron, the only fear that google and everyone else has, is that telecoms with their deep pockets and FTC appointees will block net neutrality (NET EQUALITY) and ruin the internet.

On a lighter note, If the telecoms did actually buy a burger king we would wait between 30-60 days for a whopper, and I would have wait between 8 am and 5 pm to actually receive it, and god help you if wanted fries with that. Also the whopper would be $8, with a $3 Service provider cost and a $1.99 Bun and condiments surcharge.
Posted by LarryLo (164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get a grip
Ok, the "net neutrality" thing is starting to get extremely overrated. For one, this all started when some broadband providers looked at bundling special services for some websites into their packages. At first it was a pay once for access to such and such websites. Then they talked about for however much more, your video from this premium site would go faster. Now, lets get this strait, and I'll go slow:
THEY NEVER SAID THEY WOULD SLOW DOWN OTHER SITES.

So, now other sites have jumped on this bandwagon of "Oh, the broadband providers are going to make x site go faster, so that must mean my site will go slower!". No no no. They ment that if you pay for a 4-5 meg connection, you'll still get that speed at other websites. However, for an additional fee you can get content from certian sites a bit faster than your normal connection. How does this reflect bad on business? Thats how its done. You offer a product that no one else does, you make a profit.

Now, as long as my ISP does not slow down or hinder other sites other than what they would offer on a premium access, I have no problem with that. Does that mean I have to pay more? Depends on which sites they have sign up. All this net neutrality talk is doing is letting people put restrictions on the internet and smile while doing it. Think broadband is expensive now? Lets see what happens if these regulations take effect. I guess the government does not want us to catch up to the speeds that are offered over sea's.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Business models
The real issue is the telcos' business model that has run into problems regarding broadband customers. They sell a given bandwidth, but under the assumption you will not actually use all of it. As more and more services appear on the net, the bandwidth they (over)sold is throttled, leading to a need for more investment in order to actually provide the customer's bandwidth.

They want to finance this investment by charging the content providers. These already have internet connection contracts with other ISPs, and they pay more per megabit because it's sold under the assumption that the bandwidth will be utilized.

1) Why should they start paying some third party to provide content to *their* customers? Those customers already pay that third party for Internet access. Maybe they think it would be an equally good idea to go the other way? Charge the ISPs of demanding users for the "excess bandwidth" used? The "medal" does indeed have two sides.

2) A lot of content providers would gladly pay for such privileged access to a fast lane, the same way someone could pay for privileged parking space next to the entrance of a mall or pay a city clerk to "speed up" an application or the like. I guess you would also like it if every expressway became a toll road? Should your neighbor be allowed to build a new storey on his house just because your complaint that it would ruin your view wasn't accompanied by the $10,000 that the application was?

As for the claim this will not throttle other sites, it's obvious that it will because bandwidth is limited; you can easily observe this yourself by starting one large file transfer and then another; the first transfer will drop in speed because it now competes with the other. If customer A uses content provider C, and cusomer B (sharing some part of the "chunk" with A) doesn't, then customer B suffers when, say, 2 Mbit of the shared bandwidth has been "bought" by C to stream HD video to A.

"The speeds offered over sea's" are offered without such premiums - we have net neutrality here (obviously since that's the current default) so you cannot blame high prices on such regulation.
Posted by JadedGamer (207 comments )
Link Flag
Faith in Mankind vs. Business
1) Telecommunications, cable, TV, and the internet are already heavily regulated at multiple echelons of governmnet, therefore, the arguement of net neutrality being more regulation is somewhat of an oxymoronic statement

2) Businesses duty to stock holders is to increase revenue flow presently or in the future. While telecommunications may state they have no desire to conduct certain business practices, they ultimately will and actually show a history of stamping out competition not by price points but by exclusion.

3) The internet is not one company running a communications line from one location to another but a coglomeration of companies and government infrastructure, dollars, and control. Therefore, no single company should be able to control access to the internet beyond bandwidth capabilities.

4) The concept that internet speeds of the current day will always be available on the lower tier service ignores to basic truths of technological advancements. What incentives will be available in the future for internet providers to continue increasing the lower tier services (the ones they claim to never close out)if increasing only the upper tier service gaurantees more users of their propriety web services? To assume that internet bandwidth demands will not increase over all web sites would demonstrate failure of understanding advancements in the future.

The following quote from the article actually gives many hints of the future intentions of the telecommunications industry.
"During Tuesday's debate, Carolyn Brandon, vice president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, said that Google's lobbying "reflects an underlying insecurity" in its product and perhaps a fear that telecommunications companies will create "a better search engine." "

This quote shows that the Telecommunication companies are planning and prepared to offer their own services in lieu of services that are available to this very day. Since their services will be available on the upper tier and others on the lower tier, web users would be inclined to use thiers since they will have faster service.

I suppose that I have a unique experience that others don't share from living in unique places and countries through-out the world. If you lived in other countries and felt some of the liberation of telecommunication and internet services and in other areas where there were severe restrictions, one would be more inclined to support net neutrality. In addition, access to distant servers would cause time-outs which would change my internet behavior.

Net-neutrality is actually inline with the spirit of the internet which was made possible by the military and the U.S. government and the great intellectual institutions of europe. Let's not ruin a good thing.
Posted by rilesman (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I am not quite sure....
Where to go with my thoughts on this. I have been following the net nuetrality information for some time now, and I am very much inclined to agree with google.

Years ago when the internet was not so popular and the users were not so many, nobody seemed to have a problem. It has not been untill this past year we have heard so much about it. From what I can tell, it is all about lining the pockets of the broadband providers with more of our money. I think this is wrong since we already pay them for what we use. We have been paying them right along. Now they want more money from us so they can "Invest" into companies like Burger King???

Years ago when the developers, programmers, ect. were coming out with software and hardware so we could all be on the net in communication with everyone else, broadband wasn't screaming MORE MONEY! They were enjoying all that money we have already given them. Everybody was learning how to use their computers and still do.

So what the hell did broadband do with all the money they have already made just so we can have the speed we like? If they were so worried about investments elsewhere then why did they not invest what they have already made and work their way up the same way google is doing?

It takes everyone to make the internet work. Not just the broadband companies.

If I had to invest my money in some kind of internet scheme it would be to the people who truly bring it to us, which happens to be those who invent all this wonderful stuff we happen to enjoy. If microsoft, google, open source, and all the others who create the software we use just stopped inventing it all we would not have an internet. Sure you need some kind of connection, but if you had a connection and nothing but a blank screen, what good is that?

I say Google and others behind them, make a petition on the internet to get the voice of the people. THEN we all vote NO on it, because the government does not listen to us anyway (LOL) and net nuetrality laws would be put into place because we don't want it, and we know congress always does what we don't want.

So google, if your listening, create that petition and take it to lobby. Want our help? You got mine.
Posted by Eskiegirl302 (82 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A better search engine that Google?
I thought that Carolyn Brandon's comment on the telecommunications companies making "a better search engine" than google's was idiotic.

It's clear that she doesn't have a basic idea of how search engines work in the first place.

It was wierd how she tried to work that into the debate.

Why?

Are the teleco companies considering making their own search engine? their own auction site(e-bay)? book store(amazon)?

If so the only way they can do it is to block their competition.

That would make the problem far worse than I originally thought.
Posted by youngsmeagol (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Folks, the question isn't if Google is afraid of someone else building a better search engine. The question is: If we allow the broadband carriers to prioritize traffic from those sites willing to strike deals or pay, will we ever again see the likes of a Google created out of a garage without the help of millions of dollars of investor capital?

In order to maintain robust competition and innovation on the Internet, we need Net-Neutrality.
Posted by dustysage (3 comments )
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