Google Voice’s Plea for Special FCC Treatment
October 29, 2009
In a nutshell, Google basically asserted that it is acceptable for a benevolent provider of free services like Google Claus to discriminate and block calls as an information service voice provider, but it is unaccceptable for profit-seeking broadband voice and information service providers to discriminate or block calls.
- Moreover, Google’s justification for not being subject to the FCC’s NPRM is that Google discriminates for good economic reasons like cost-control, and employs an “invitation only” process, so they are still technically “neutral” and not “exclusive,” unlike broadband ISPs who might discriminate for bad economic reasons like revenue-generation and must serve the whole public.
- Furthermore, Google justifies their discrimination and call blocking as acceptable because their service is “free” to the public and because there must be limits to Google’s beneficence. If a few callers run up more long distance costs than the monopoly-search-advertiser is willing to cross-subsidize, those long distance call hogs should be blocked and discriminated against because they are using more than their fair share of bandwidth, and only Google is allowed to use lots more Internet bandwidth than it pays for.
- In other words, if you have an advertising-based model, it is OK to give away services and discriminate to control costs and punish usage hogs, but if one charges a fee for one’s service, one must be banned from discriminating to control costs or generate revenues.
- Google wants the FCC to understand that there is a need for a “bright-line” distinction, that indiscriminate leveraging of Google’s largest virtual network of assets in the world is inherently good, but any leveraging of physical network assets by even the smallest of broadband ISPs is inherently bad.
Google also gave the FCC enough mind-numbing detail that no reporter could ever decipher if Google Voice was discriminating in the “good” part of the grey area of convergence or the “bad” part of the grey area of convergence.
In a fit of hypocrisy, Google again redacted portions of its response to the FCC, just like it did in non-transparently responding to the FCC concerning Apple’s rejection of Google’s Voice App.
- Apparently, Google also expects to get special treatment from the FCC on the transparency requirements for information service providers in the FCC’s proposed net neutrality regulations.
- Obviously it never occurred to Google that as the single biggest corporate voice lobbying for the Federal Government to be transparent and for Google’s cloud-computing broadband competitors to be transparent, that Google should at least try to be transparent when everyone is watching.
In closing, the essence of Google’s defense of why they should be able to discriminate indiscriminately as an information service provider, and broadband information service providers should not — is that the FCC simply can trust Google to not abuse any special treatment by the FCC because they are only discriminating against about a hundred entities and they are only discriminating for good economic reasons…