Is Google taking a free ride?

On Monday, a Verizon executive named John Thorne spoke before a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. His message? That Google is freeloading on the companies that built the Internet backbone, companies like Verizon that own the fiber, without paying their fair share. For a deeper summary of what he said, here is a link to an article at the Washington Post.

I’ve heard similar grumblings like this for some time coming from those who build and maintain the Internet’s infrastructure, basically amounting to little more than “They’re making money hand over fist using our pipes, and we want some of that money too.” It’s childish.

Nevermind that users pay for access, and that Google is also paying for its bandwidth. Nevermind that the Internet was founded on the principle that the pipes are shared, with users on both ends paying for their access. Nevermind that many of these pipes were subsidized with government money. Nevermind that Verizon is trying to frame the argument in such a way that it actually seems harmed by its inability to suck money directly from Google’s pockets. All this with a straight face.

I haven’t seen anything yet in any of these arguments from the backbone providers that I find compelling. It always seems to boil down to base emotions like greed and avarice.

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