The Google ISP

Yesterday the Official Google Blog revealed plans for a 1 Gig fiber-to-the-home network. Their project sounds almost tentative and in the spirit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake:

…the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there’s still more to be done. We don’t think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.

Here’s what’s really going on:

In fact, Google is putting more claws into the net-neutrality battle between content providers (Google,Facebook,Twitter,eBay…) and the owners of cable, fiber, and spectrum (you know who you are!) This phase of the confrontation is centered around the FCC’s October 2009 proposal “to preserve an open internet.”

In their net-neutrality document, the FCC is looking to keep the Internet both open and “unregulated.” My quick read tells me that Genachowski does recall the historic role of the FCC in regulating openness. There were all those ancient rules regarding separation between enhanced and basic services and later rule making in the Telecommunication Act of 1996 dividing companies into either information or telecommunication services. Most of the sparring in recent years involved deciding who was an information service, which equated to no access charge fees and reduced taxes, and who was an infrastructure player. (Editor’s note: you’re getting off track. )

This is all to say, regulations are going to shape the Internet while monopolies still rule, and well intended attempts to pry open the infrastructure, like unbundling network elements, have not succeeded. (Editor: and what about Google?)

And Google is very aware of what it needs to do to keep the Internet awesome. In its comments, the search provider experts clearly understand the current business environment: discriminatory practices of the carriers, the weak enforcement of rules by the FCC, and overbearing networking management polices of the existing carrier club.

So Google ISP is a shot across the bow: if you can’t trust the existing telecom infrastructure owner, then build your own darn open network and show the rest of the world how it’s done. When you make money on content and ad $s, you don’t have much to gain in playing favorites.