Google Needs Less Federal Regulation to Advance the Internet

by Jeff Wiener on September 29, 2011

Google has a message for the government regarding the future of the Internet: Get Out of the Way! Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in France, Kevin Lo, who as general manager of access oversees the Google Fiber project, pointed to the fact that the government often wants to pursue two seemingly contradictory goals: a faster Internet and an open (hear regulated) Internet. The former, Lo stated, is something that Google is working towards every day, but will not be able to achieve so long as the latter remains on the docket.

It comes as no coincidence that Google chose this stage to speak to such a topic, with the FCC having just announced its timeline for the implementation and enforcement of its controversial Net Neutrality standards.

So what are we to make of all this? Is Net Neutrality truly hindering the growth and development of the Internet? Is the softening of regulations and the empowerment of private sector companies like Google really the answer to the technological advancement?

For starters, lets get one thing clear; when Google speaks about the benefits of its Fiber project, the next generation fibre optic Internet system that the search engine giant is hoping will revolutionize our entire Web experience, its not so much interested in the benefit for us the user as it is interested in expanding its technological dominance.

While I have no doubt that the government and the public would welcome faster Internet speeds, without the proper regulations in place, regulations that Google claims stifle innovation, there would be little to stop companies from gouging their customers or from stopping Google from monopolizing the market altogether.

That being said, in this case it seems that Google’s demands on the softening of regulations aren’t so outrageous; adding credence to my theory that innovation and Net Neutrality can eventually live in harmony. In his speech Lo went beyond talking about general network regulations that would be apart of the FCC’s Net Neutrality standards to a more specific issue, regulations tied to physical telecommunications infrastructure.

The issue that Google has with the government as it tests its next gen Fiber project is that it simply can’t get the physical access to most cities’ infrastructures to lay the cables needed to rollout a faster Internet. To that end Lo proposed three specific changes cities can make to help advance the Internet: ease access to public rights-of-way where fibre-optic cables can be laid; ease access to utility poles; and enable special service districts to free sections of municipalities from zoning restrictions.

But again, lets not be fooled here, this is the company that took it upon itself to solve the Net Neutrality debate last year, producing a clearly biased solution that served only the interests of private sector companies and did little to actually regulate or enforce Internet management practices across the country.

So how should the government move forward? For starters, stay the course when it comes to Net Neutrality, with the clear understanding that the Internet, like telephones before it, has become an integral telecommunications service and thus needs regulation.

Beyond that, however, the government needs to recognize that in this day and age innovation does generally come from the private sector, meaning that some serious discernment is needed to determine what regulations to uphold and which to ease up on… whether that sort of discernment actually exists in the government is a whole different story.

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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