Why Google Fiber Doesn’t Charge for ‘Fast Lanes’

Yesterday in a blog post, Google Fiber's director of network engineering, Jeffrey Burgan, explained why Google's Internet service provider doesn't charge Netflix and other content companies for direct connections to its network. Obviously this makes Comcast, who is charging Netflix and other content providers for direct access to its customers, look bad.

Burgan says that Google Fiber gives "companies like Netflix and Akamai [a content delivery network] free access to space and power in our facilities and they provide their own content servers. We don’t make money from peering or colocation; since people usually only stream one video at a time, video traffic doesn’t bog down or change the way we manage our network in any meaningful way—so why not help enable it?"

Google's argument makes sense because it also owns YouTube, the second biggest online video service in North America in terms of traffic, and has to pay interconnection deals with AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and other ISPs. Unlike Netflix, Google has kept these deals – which are common knowledge anyway – on the down-low.

Burgan's post goes on to posit that unpaid connections between ISPs and content providers create "a win-win-win situation. It’s good for content providers because they can deliver really high-quality streaming video to their customers. For example, because Netflix colocated their servers along our network, their customers can access full 1080p HD and, for those who own a 4K TV, Netflix in Ultra HD 4K. It’s good for us because it saves us money (it’s easier to transport video traffic from a local server than it is to transport it thousands of miles). But most importantly, we do this because it gives Fiber users the fastest, most direct route to their content."

And maybe the proof is in the pudding: Google Fiber has offered better Netflix performance than all the major ISPs, according to Netflix's speed rankings.

One of the ways that Google Fiber prevents network congestion is by inviting "content providers to hook up their networks directly to ours. This is called ‘peering,’ and it gives you a more direct connection to the content that you want."

It also helps that Google Fiber opted to bring Netflix storage equipment inside its network.

"Usually, when you go to Netflix and click on the video that you want to watch, your request needs to travel to and from the closest Netflix data center, which might be a roundtrip of hundreds or thousands of miles," Burgan wrote. "Instead, Netflix has placed their own servers within our facilities (in the same place where we keep our own video-on-demand content). Because the servers are closer to where you live, your content will get to you faster and should be a higher quality."

Google Fiber is available now in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, with plans to come to Austin, Texas. Google is evaluating 34 more cities for possible deployment. San Antonio, Texas looks like it might be the next city to get Google Fiber.

Source: Ars Technica

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  1. 0
    DorthLous says:

    We never had either path (and most would argue never will.) But to hope compromises is always the right answer, I'll turn you toward any ethical dilemma before where the answer needed a yes or a no. Compromising only works if both paths are valid from the get go AS WELL as their middle-point. But, for example, if everyone in your society is already acting in the best interest of everyone, then there is no advantage to the dictatorship path. You're just better off with an anarchy and self-regulations. However, if you have numerous elements that are out for themselves or, worse, to detriment others, then it is highly unlikely that any given system will be *as* good as a omnipotent, omniscient good dictatorship. Again, either path is unlikely anyway, but it seems Google are starting to stack the deck in one direction and it might not be the worse one.

  2. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Many ISPs are given government grant money that usually paid out of the Universal Service Fund that is tacked onto the bills of phone and internet subscribers. That money is supposed to be used to pay for infrastructure and service in rural regions of the US. However, many ISPs pocket the money and only pay lip service to its actual purpose.

    E. Zachary Knight
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  3. 0
    Sleaker says:

    But the checklist stuff is exactly why google is not at any disadvantage they submit their requests/demands whatever you want to call it and if the market doesn't look right they move on to a different city.  

    I feel like people want to throw out simple statements like 'google is at a disadvantage'  without actually providing an explanation of how, because everything I've seen and read about google fiber gives them every advantage over normal carriers.

    Also where's the reference on 'ISPs were given lots of money.'   In my city ISPs don't get paid to extend service, nor are they given 'lots of money' to build their infrastructure.  All of the poles are privately owned, and all of the infrastructure is privately built and funded.

  4. 0
    Wymorence says:

    Not sure where you've gotten your info from, but nothing I've read thus far lists anything of the sort. There is something of a "pushing the workload on to the city to put together information" thing I do see, but that's something the city would do anyway. It's not up to Google to go around finding out where all the underground electrical, gas, etc stuff is so they can interface with it, that's something the city itself does. Also they apparently ask to streamline the permit procedures so that they can get right down to business and not waste time they could be working.

    Seriously, most everything I've found isn't even close to a 'demand', it's far more request-based. And if they are/do get tax breaks, I ask you this: Why is it so bad here if there are other states that'll slash taxes as much as possible to attract businesses to them? Currently GF is something of a badge of bragging rights, a service that thousands of cities around the country are fighting over to get to be the next city hooked up to the service.

    If anyone is interested, here's the GF "Checklist" they have prospective cities work on:


  5. 0
    Sleaker says:

    You should probably look into how much big ISPs spend each year on network infrastructure and how Google gets to make it's own rules when providing service to a city before claiming that 'google has no help.'

    Google gives a list of demands to cities, if they don't meet the requirements then google doesn't put fiber there. On top of that, the demands are generally pushing workload onto the city to put together information, along with requiring bypasses on land, breaks on taxes, or being given a premium on rates for the public bypasses, and in ways that other telco/cable companies don't get.. 

  6. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Two paths are posited for an Utopia…
    A world of well-doing, well-meaning, well-informed anarchists or an omnipotent benevolent dictator.

    I see where Google has placed its bets and, seeing some of the alternatives, I'm not yet sure it isn't one of our current best bet.

  7. 0
    Matthew Wilson says:

    Too bad Google is at a major disadvantage the other isps were given allot of money to build out their networks. Google has to do it with no help.

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