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Could Google Fiber Save Network Neutrality? 230

nmpost writes "Could Google Fiber, set to launch next week, be the savior of network neutrality? Some speculate that the program is Google's answer to attacks on network neutrality by the big internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. These companies complain about the price of upgrading and maintaining their network, and want to charge websites like Google extra money to allow customers fast access to its sites. This practice would violate the long held spirit of the internet, where all data traffic is treated equally. Google may be out to prove that fast networks can be built and maintained at reasonable prices."
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Could Google Fiber Save Network Neutrality?

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  • Dibs (Score:4, Funny)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:39PM (#40692147)

    Dibs on first run to my house!

    • by Lando ( 9348 )

            Modded as funny, but I might consider moving to Kansas City based on this.

  • Not likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bearded_yak ( 457170 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:39PM (#40692151) Homepage

    Even the best efforts tend to become commercialized. Look at Google Shopping's new upcoming direction.

    What is to stop them 3 years later from creating a paid class system? And who would be able to honestly blame them? After all, it would be THEIR network.

    • Re:Not likely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:24PM (#40692529)

      Yeah this supposes that everyone in the world puts money above all other values. In reality, that only describes a subset of humanity. If it described everyone then every opportunity to commit a financially advantageous criminal act would be taken by everyone every chance they got.

      The reason civilization holds together isn't because we pass laws and intimidate people into obeying them. The reason civilization holds together is because most people want to live within the boundaries society sets. In fact, the generalized will of the people is where those boundaries came from in the first place. Even draconic enforcement just couldn't coerce a population into overcoming impulses that assail them every hour of every day.

      What we have in America and elsewhere is a economic system which fails to punish sociopathy early on. In fact, it does just the opposite, it rewards it differentially with career advancement. The people at the top ARE different- they're worse, much worse, than the average person.

      I heard some woman talking on BBC a couple nights ago about how the CEOs involed in the LIBOR scandal are really no better or worse than you or I, they just have bigger opportunities. That is exactly wrong. The bigger the potential to wreak damage on larger numbers of people,. the MORE earnest and conscientious the average person becomes with dispatching his or her duties. That's called "having a conscience"

      Of course from a sociobiological point of view, we can forgive her for talking this way. Having been selected as a commentator on the behaviour of the executives of banks means she has had and likely continues to have some opportunities for socializing with them. So of course she's going to use this interview as an opportunity to signal her willingness and availability for copulation with the powerful males in her tribe. Still, if anything other than her limbic system had had control of her mouth and behaviour, any of the above facts might have popped into her head and resulted in a smarter and more insightful interview.

      Not everyone is a sociopath and consequently not everyone prioritizes the accumulation of personal wealth above all other values. I count the execs at Google amongst the more morally normal people in business.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Yeah this supposes that everyone in the world puts money above all other values. In reality, that only describes a subset of humanity. If it described everyone then every opportunity to commit a financially advantageous criminal act would be taken by everyone every chance they got.

        But it describes pretty much 100% of all for-profit companies, they're not a person and they don't as such have a conscience. Whatever things they claim to do for charity and the environment and whatnot is usually a PR exercise that's ultimately designed to bring them even more money. No matter what those executives want they have shareholders who want profit. They have employees that want to make profits to get their bonuses. Any corporation rewards those that make money for it, it's the essence of capital

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Any corporation rewards those that make money for it, it's the essence of capitalism which means that's what you get from top to bottom and the sociopaths that care about nothing else floats to the top. It might not be how people act, but it's how corporations act and Google definitively is one of them. Don't expect those executives to keep it from turning into just like every other big company.

          In the case of Google, though, the top executives are also the largest shareholders and have so much money that financial rewards are effectively meaningless to them. Of course, many CEO types still keep trying to increase their net worth even after they've got more money than they could possibly ever spend, because it becomes the way to keep score, and they're all about winning. But Larry Page isn't a typical CEO type, his degrees are in computer engineering and computer science, and you just have to lis

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 )

          It's true that corporations are inherently sociopathic (and now in control of our elections thanks to SCOTUS) but don't think in Manichean terms, the world or something in it as purely good or evil,. because it's beneath you; you're smarter than that.

          Not every corporation is compelled to interpret "maximizing shareholder value" in the crassest, most short sighted way and many don't. Google can easily make the case that net neutrality is in the long term best interests of the company. In fact, doing th

          • I don't know. I have mixed feelings about Google these days. I used to be a staunch defender, but the whole Google+ debacle turned me sour on them. I have no great love for FaceBook or anything, but after signing up for G+, hearing crickets and then finding I couldn't delete my profile without deleting my whole Google (e.g. GMail et al) account, the whole thing just stank to me. I've even stopped using Chrome for the most part, where it used to be my main browser. Now I only use it on my Mac when I need
            • You do know that if you do not participate in G+ they can not collect more info and you can remove any profile info you put in. Don't think of it as a G+ account, for you it's just a GMail account. It's the same one you happily used to log in and manage search history, analytics, Picasa in its time, Google API keys, Google Play, etc. Same as it was.

          • Re:Not likely (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Raenex ( 947668 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:16AM (#40695379)

            Google (whom I do not work for) does seem to me to be a company apart.

            You really need to open your eyes and stop buying into propaganda. I agree to a certain extent that Google puts some effort into behaving, but at the end of the day they are a for-profit company bent on creating a digital empire.

            Google have pretty much lived up to the "don't be evil" slogan, a bout of WIFI panty-sniffing excepted .

            Google now has a long history of disregarding privacy, and the WiFi sniffing is just one example. Other examples are not deleting email when requested by the user, the Buzz privacy fiasco, pervasive tracking (including forcing cookies on Safari via a loophole), and keeping data around for too long. Most of these problems have been addressed after public outcry, though the pervasive tracking is still there.

            Comcast and Verizon and ATT are purely evil in that they want only money and the larger society can go fuck itself. They have no sense of civic duty nor do they care about the fate of this nation or its peoples , except as a PR move.

            So is that why Google dodges taxes [] using tax havens?

            "Google Inc. cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

            Google's income shifting -- involving strategies known to lawyers as the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich" -- helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries. "

      • The reason civilization holds together isn't because we pass laws and intimidate people into obeying them. The reason civilization holds together is because most people want to live within the boundaries society sets.

        This is exactly true, more people need to realize that. It is true in business, too. If you have to settle every detail in a contract, then it can really slow things down. If business partners can trust each other, then it makes things go faster. There's a book about that too [].

    • What is to stop them 3 years later from creating a paid class system?

      Why would we want to prevent that?

      Seriously... as long as there is no discrimination based on source (i.e., everyone gets the same pricing), what is the problem with tiered services?

      To me, that's the crux of net neutrality, to have it similar to common-carrier status. Anyone can pay for different service levels, and the volume discount is formulaic, not negotiated.

    • Look at Google Shopping's new upcoming direction.

      In all fairness, can it possibly be worse than the current Google Shopping?

  • CAN be built fairly inexpensively but it has to be done with a purpose.

    I've long proposed that Municipalities build their own networks, and then lease the management and fiberplant with specific parameters about things that are important to them. THEN that would provide the impedus for competition.

    They could do FIBER, CABLE and Copper in one bundled set and pull it to each home. Competition from the start.

    • Or better yet: The state could run 100-fiber bundles under all the state-owned roads, and let the customer decide. If you want Comcast connect to the Comcast fiber #1. If you want Verizon choose fiber #2. If you want AppleTV or MSN or Time-warner connect to fiber 3 or 4 or 5. Et cetera.

      • Exactly, but why do that at the house, why not run ONE cable set to the house and everything else goes back to a CO somewhere, where it is a simple cross connect by a skilled technician.

      • Re:Fast Networks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:59PM (#40692345)

        Or better yet: The state

        And with those words, you would drive half the people of this country into hysterics. We can't even agree to a public option...I doubt highly that enough of us would agree to fund something like that no matter how beneficial we all know it would be. Look at what they're doing to NPR... []

        • Sure you could. All you have to do is use precisely loaded words in carefully constructed sentences. And lie. A lot. People will buy it. People will buy anything if you lie to them long enough.

          Lying works. Lying is a growth industry. Lying is the most successful sales technique the world has ever seen. It began with organized religion thousands of years ago and ended with Fox News (which is nearly indistinguishable from organized religion).

          It could be done. Not ethically, perhaps, but it could be d

          • Let me guess, you're into Porn and Hookers and drugs? No, those things don't lie to you at all ... NOOOOO.

            I know, I shouldn't feed the trolls.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

          Rephrasing is key: this is an application of States' Rights.

          And I'm not a fan of socialism on the national level. It doesn't bother me on the State level, though, as that's where it belongs. It's a lot easier to hammer your State reps when they get out of line. National reps aren't accountable to voters because they believe they have a mandate up until the instant they lose their re-election bid. As such, they should have commensurately limited power over the day-to-day affairs of ordinary individuals.

    • by ExploHD ( 888637 )

      I've long proposed that Municipalities build their own networks, and then lease the management and fiberplant with specific parameters about things that are important to them

      Like Utah's UTOPIA []? It's on the Utah's republicans hit list, btw.

      • Thats pretty awesome! One of the providers has a 100 mbps connection for $50. I get 12 mbps connection from comcast for the same rate.

      • by butlerm ( 3112 )

        UTOPIA is great, if you can get it. The problem is that your city needs to sign on, and you and preferably several of your neighbors need to each agree to pay ~$30 a month to lease a fiber connection (or purchase the the right to use one indefinitely for ~$3000). Then you pay your ISP / IPTV / telco provider to deliver service to you over the shared Ethernet network. Build out has been relatively slow, in part because they originally projected that most customers would sign up for Internet, television, a

    • I want a pony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:12PM (#40692443)

      I've long proposed that Municipalities build their own networks,

      And the Big Operators have fought that. A few early adopters have slipped by them. Tacoma, WA built the Click Network [] through their power PUD. But the commercial operators have put legislation in place in many jurisdictions to prevent the further spread of public networks. Where this hasn't been possible, they have recruited astroturfers to scream about the horrors of public infrastructure to frighten the public away from supporting such projects.

      • Not to mention just flat out sue over it.

      • I've long proposed that Municipalities build their own networks,

        But the commercial operators have put legislation in place in many jurisdictions to prevent the further spread of public networks.

        This isn't technically true. Democratically elected officials have been lobbied into passing legislation. If you didn't vote for incompetent crooks, this wouldn't happen.

    • Re:Fast Networks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:18PM (#40692487)

      Yes, it really isn't that expensive. I put in my own fiber network for our farm, home and business. Small, but then we're smaller than Google (surprise!) and I had a very good reason. Fiber is immune to lightning strikes which are a huge problem up here on the mountain. Next I would like to lay fiber the mile and a half down to the phone company. It pushes the lightning strike problem that much further away from us.

    • How does one go about convincing a municipality to do this though? We've seen stories here about some high speed networks being built, but what is that first step that convinces a city council to say "Yup, we need that"?
      • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

        First, hit up people involved in the creation of a successful project: Click Network [], Chelan Fiber, or [] UTOPIA [].

        Figure out the goals of the community leaders in the area in question. Gather the pros and cons, and write them up in a way that satisfies as many points of view as possible. Try to approach it in a manner which incorporates the typical talking points of local groups who might oppose it.

        Lastly, get out and talk to people. Local politicians are usually very sensitive to pressure from within their ele

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      Or better yet: Municipalities should build a conduit system. One that is about the size of the current storm drain system should do. They should then lease out the right to anyone that wants to pull cable. New players could wire up a city in no time if they didn't have to dig. Existing players could upgrade their networks at a fraction of the cost if they didn't have to re-dig. Municipalities could do the job that they have extensive experience with instead of trying to become experts in a new and eve
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitHive ( 578094 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:46PM (#40692219) Homepage

    The solution to network neutrality is to buy up tons of dark fiber in the wake of a bubble and use it to build your own national network? Does anyone else see a problem with this?

    • If you don't like it, stay of Gnet and stop wasting my bandwidth!
  • Google does something inexpensively? Hah.. They treat a missing million dollars in cafeteria budge as an inconsequential rounding error.
  • The real test (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trongy ( 64652 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:51PM (#40692269)
    If Google becomes successful with this, the real test will be whether they offer their competitors equal access to their network.
  • There is no dark fiber in front of my house. Google might be able to get within a mile or so, but AT&T/Comcast/Verizon aren't going to let them get any closer.

    The amount that the last mile providers will charge is unrelated to their cost of providing service. If all Google had to do was to cross the street, their fees would be the same. In fact, the Google Fiber project stands to provide windfall profits to the last mile operators. It will relieve them of the need to maintain their backbone infrastruc

    • Re:Last mile (Score:5, Informative)

      by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:24PM (#40692527)

      I gather you don't know anything about the Google Fiber project. They pulled last mile fiber. That was the whole point of the project: that the existing last mile was ancient, unupgraded, substandard crap, raped and abused and ignored by cable companies and telcos for the last half century, in the certain knowledge that when people decided it needed to be better, they could go crying to the government, get a HUGE handout, and pay every last dime of it out to shareholders as dividends, leaving their cable plant in exactly the same miserable state. Wash, rinse, repeat.

      How do we know this? Because they've already done it [] successfully.

      So Google did get to the front doors of all the people in Kansas City, and Charter and AT&T couldn't stop them, because the city agreed to it. Charter and AT&T's wires are still there, but they're going to lose 90% of their customers in a day. And they deserve to. Read that link. It will make you truly angry.

      • Re:Last mile (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Kargan ( 250092 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:47PM (#40692753) Homepage

        // So Google did get to the front doors of all the people in Kansas City, and Charter and AT&T couldn't stop them, because the city agreed to it. //

        As a Kansas City-area resident, I'm afraid this is not the case. I don't know anyone that lives in Kansas City, KS that currently has access to Google Fiber services, or that has seen any trucks or workers in their neighborhood.

        Google has been very short on public details with this entire project, and this launch that the article is referring to has to refer to a very limited and localized deployment.

        Keep in mind that physical installation did not even begin until this past February: []

        'A Google spokeswoman would not say whether the announcement actually means somebody in Kansas City will finally get a light-speed connection next week.

        "We're excited to announce more information Google Fiber next week," said Jenna Wandres. "We haven't elaborated on what arriving means."' []

        I'll be curious to eventually find out who has access to it, exactly, and how long it'll be before any significant portions of the city are lit up.

  • Fiber? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jblb ( 2639331 )
    It hurts my eyes to read fibre spelt that way.
  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:17PM (#40692483) Homepage

    We are still in a mode in many areas where ISPs are trying to build market share, especially with DSL. DSL took a big hit when the equal-access provisions were found to be unworkable - technology passed them by and nobody noticed - but you still see offers for $14.99 DSL service.

    Look at "business rates" for DSL or cable and you will see what the real costs are. Nobody is interested in competing on price for business customers, so they do not. The result is the prices are 3-4 times the residential rates and in many areas they will not give you a "residential" (i.e., cheap) plan at a business address.

    On the residential front, most of the ISPs are trying to compete on price because the service is pretty well known. What is the difference with business service? Certainly nothing that changes the real cost structure, in fact things are added which cost more for the ISP.

    Where most of the "network neutrality" flap has come from is the ISPs are offering below-cost service to residential customers in an effort to still build market share. Of course, any residential user that is doing more than web surfing and reading email is costing them more in peering than they are getting from the customer on an Internet-only plan. Should be obvious why they want you on a bundled plan with cable TV and phone service. The business customer is in a market-building mode so they are charged full cost plus.

    So why are the ISPs screaming? Because they boxed themselves in with below-cost pricing for residential customers. The same residential customers that are doing much more than just web surfing and reading email. They can't raise prices to their customers - they are building market share. So where are they going to recoup their real costs? You guessed it - the other end of the connection, the one with no options and the one with the deep pockets.

    Could Google come in an offer service to residential customers? Maybe, but they are far more likely to offer service on their own terms to ISPs - perhaps with no peering charges at all. Google is paying nothing or almost nothing for the existing fiber - they bought it already. So their costs are already sunk into it. Would an ISP sign on with Google? If the other option is to continue to pay someone else for traffic to Google... maybe it makes sense.

    Could Google compete on a residential service level? Sure, I suppose. But they would have the same costs as the ISP does for customer service (script readers in India) and physical plant maintenance (outsourced to independent contractors) and they would have to make a huge investment into local terminations - nodes where the connections to homes would be. It makes much more sense for them to offer independent Google connections bypassing the current peering arrangements to save the ISPs rather than paying the ISPs for the privilege of having eyeballs.

    The advantage for Google is with a completely independent pipe to each and every ISP they can do a much better job of geographic data mining. And traffic analysis so they know the Detroit suburbs aren't going to Amazon as much as the folks in Scottsdale. There are probably hundreds of other things they can collect this way with a tap into every ISP. Probably with a router running custom Google code to facilitate this tap. It makes paying for the fiber a rounding error on the balance sheet compared with the value of the information they can collect.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      The bigger problem with DSL is that many ISPs either limit the speed so much that its useless or they have given up altogether and ceded the market to the cable companies.

      If ISPs who offered ADSL actually offered the latest technology (ADSL2+) and at "maximum speed" (i.e. the best speed you can get based on how far from the ADSL kit you are) AND had DSL in more phone exchanges, it might be a better option.

    • Respectfully, I don't know how much of that I am willing to buy. I recall a news story on the excess dark fiber laid in anticipation of continued meteoric growth during the dot com era. Why not light up this dark fiber and use it to make money instead of lay dormant?
    • Could Google come in an offer service to residential customers? Maybe, but they are far more likely to offer service on their own terms to ISPs

      The Google Fiber under discussion is residential service, launching next week in Kansas City. It's supposed to ultra high-speed connections to residential consumers at an affordable price.

  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:24PM (#40692525) Journal
    I guess it's true that a lot of fibre will open up your "pipes".
  • by dgreer ( 1206 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:37PM (#40692649)

    May I point out that all packets are NOT treated alike, and haven't been for over a decade. Controlling priority and limiting heavy services are common procedures in all major networks, and users should be darned thankful for it.

    The original argument that started all this nonsense was complaints that TWC and Comcast were ratcheting down services like eMule and Torrent. Then somebody speculated that they may start doing it to people like google (followed about a month later by Comcast and Verizon floating just such a plan ... probably suggested to them by somebody reading the original discussion here on /. BTW) and the /.ers went crazy and started demanding that somebody in government regulate those evil ISPs.

    My advice now is the same as then: let the market work. If you drag the pols into this, you will get results that you REALLY don't want because they will do what their donors (who are NOT you) want them to do. Unintended consequences will surely follow.

    Google buying dark fiber to take TWC, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon on head-to-head is what my suggestion looks like. If they are successful, other investors will smell the blood in the water and we may find ourselves sitting in 1999-type network growth again (only this time, nobody will be dumb enough to say that profit doesn't matter).

    Regulation will be the death of the break-neck innovation that has gotten us where we are. Is it fast enough yet? Of course not, but it isn't going to get faster if every decision has to go through some bureaucrats in DC.

    • by Altrag ( 195300 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:11PM (#40692943)

      let the market work

      That's only a viable option whenin markets with meaningful competition. Which in most jurisdictions, is just not there in the isp market.
      Without competition, the only remaining control options are regulation or crossing your fingers for corporate benevolence (pretty likely, right?)... Or well, just giving up your net+phone+tv... And if you're willing to do that then power to you, but there's not enough people willing/able to make that sacrifice for the isps to care.
      Government definitely fishes things up a lot.. but I'd rather a well-meaning half measure than an intentional fuckover..

  • I'm pretty sure I'm ready for that brain implant Google is working on as long as it means I get a dedicated trunk connection to my house(brain).

    John Scalzi had a pretty interesting concept in "Old Man's War" and the "The Ghost Brigades" with the "Brain Pal" implant. In the second book special forces clones were literally born (adult sized) and able to talk within minutes with the implant and the net connection handling the heavy lifting, feeding information and concepts to the brain until it could do i

  • I'm glad to see a company stepping up to begin breaking the telecom oligarchy. If this is a success and Google doesn't add any kind of bandwidth caps, this could force Big Telecom to go back to the unlimited, all you can eat bandwidth for wireline communication. My only concern is that how much is this service going to cost, not only in terms of actual dollars and cents but in terms of privacy. Google has been known for playing a little fast and loose with privacy.
  • The price hasn't been announced.

    checkmate dear summary writer?
  • I wonder if this story was born out of this comment [] I left here on the "Google Compute Engine []" story. However my point was that network neutrality becomes a non-issue with companies laying their own network infrastructure on one hand, and on the other, passing laws like Network Neutrality would HURT those companies that lay their own infrastructure, because it would force them to create uneven pricing between internal and external content from point of view of what it costs the company to move data interna

  • Because Internet regulations are currently full of shit.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault