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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