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March 12th, 2010 4:07 pm
Google Discovers That Being an Internet Service Provider Isn’t as Easy as It Appears
Posted by Print

Google stands as one of the leading cheerleaders of so-called “Net Neutrality,” that benign-sounding movement to expand government’s regulatory reach over the Internet.

“Net Neutrality” is a bureaucratic “solution” in search of a non-existent Internet problem, and it would stifle incentives for Internet service providers to innovate and expand networks.  Currently, Internet service providers invest $60 billion or more annually toward network buildout and advancement, which is critical in this age of ever-expanding web traffic.  Without that enormous service network investment and expansion, Internet bottlenecks will increase and technological evolution will slow.

But why should Google or other Net regulation proponents worry about its negative impact on consumers, Internet service providers and network expansion?  It’s much easier to remain a free rider on networks that other people have built, and sanctimoniously advocate federal regulations for others.

But a funny thing happened to Google when it attempted to test the waters itself in providing high-speed Internet service.  In a piece this week entitled “Tough Road for Google’s Network,” The Wall Street Journal reports how Google quickly discovered that building Internet service infrastructure isn’t quite as easy as it looks.  Last month, Google announced that it would build high-speed Internet connections for up to 500,000 people in America.  Just one month later, however, Google realizes that “building such a network is a giant construction problem, with the cost potentially surpassing $1 billion.”

According to Jim Baller, an attorney providing consulting services to Google, the experience has been sobering:

Beyond the cost issues and economic challenges in terms of what it takes to develop the infrastructure, to me one of the most significant barriers is that we don’t have a vision of what [ultra-high-speed Internet connections] will enable us to do.”

A Google spokesperson added:

We know that other companies have been in this business a long time.  We’re not pretending to have all the answers.”

Actually, Google did pretend to “have the answers” insofar as it advocated “Net Neutrality” regulations that would do to the Internet what the “Fairness Doctrine” would do to free speech.  Google quickly discovered how difficult life as an Internet service provider can be, and it needs to realize that “Net Neutrality” would only make it tougher.

Hopefully, Google’s experience will encourage it to reconsider its destructive position on “Net Neutrality.”  American consumers, tech sector employers and even Google itself will be better off for it.

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