Tiered Internet Services versus Net Neutrality: Notes from the Google Verizon Chapter (Part I)
Google: a $120 billion public colossus with 20,000 employees with a moto “Do no Evil”. To quote Brin and Page in their IPO document in 2004, “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains.”The idea was to build “a company that is trustworthy and interested in the public good. We believe a well-functioning society should have abundant, free and unbiased access to high quality information. Google therefore has a responsibility to the world.”
Tiered Internet services: Evil Deal or Pragmatic Compromise? (Tiered Internet services are an antithesis of Net Neutrality)
Google Followers, Critics, Enthusiasts and the denizens of a free world Internet were thus jolted when Google(along with Verizon) brought out a proposal to FCC on Net Neutraility. To many it was “an abuse”. For years, Google has been the single largest — and loudest — proponent of net neutrality among any private company- the basic principle that broadband companies shouldn’t play favorites with Web content — their own or others’ — for payment. Idealogy apart, it’s not hard to see why. The company’s entire business model — it earns 95% of its revenue from search ads — depends on users being able to access Google.com on the Internet for free.
The idea of net neutrality has generally been opposed by the big broadband providers who, after all, invested mightily to build the hardware backbone of the Internet. Why should Google be allowed to stream YouTube videos for free to millions when we built the infrastructure, the providers ask? Also a tiered service helps in terms of differentiating services from a consumer perspective. The analogy here is that of premium HDTV services versus “Plain Vanilla” satellite TV services.
The Germination of the Thought: Tiered Internet (Courtesy Android)
Google and Verizon have coordinated on many launches around the Android – mostly featured on Moto and HTC devices. With some heavy duty marketing by Verizon and courtesy its lineage to open source, the popularity of Android has shot through the roof. The proof of the pudding is in the Android market shares (14% gained in a year’s time) and the fact that Android is selling 200K phones per day, outselling iPhone by a distance.
In terms of ideologies, Google was the proponent of Open Internet and Verizon was backing the Tiered Internet structure. It was when Google and Verizon started discussing common grounds between each of their interests, that the thought and the proposal of (possible) regulation of wireless internet came into being. What helped this marriage was the animosity both these corporations shared with AT&T.