Report: Google underpays for bandwidth

Fri, 12/05/2008 - 7:25am
Brian Santo

The average consumer is subsidizing Google’s consumption of far, far more bandwidth than it pays for, a study published today charges. The stated goal of the report is to influence broadband policy – and not, coincidentally, to extract money from Google, but its first affect is to draw quick scorn for its methodology and conclusions.

“Any sustainable national broadband policy must ensure that the heaviest Internet users pay their fair share of the Internet infrastructure costs,” author Scott Cleland wrote.

Cleland was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for telecom trade matters during President George H.W. Bush’s Administration, which confers on him some standing as an expert witness.

As such, he has commented on a variety of communications-related subjects, but has also developed into a constant critic of Google. He testified in Congress against Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick (ultimately allowed and consummated in March of this year), and accused Google of deliberately using its market power to undermine competitor Yahoo (nevermind that it was the Department of Justice that ultimately nixed the Google-Yahoo relationship).

Cleland is now president of a consulting firm called Precursor, and he is the chairman of Netcompetition, which describes itself as a pro-competition forum. Netcompetition has received funding and support from AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Qwest and the American Cable Association (ACA), according to SourceWatch.

In his report, “A First-Ever Research Study: Estimating Google’s U.S. Consumer Internet Usage & Cost – 2007-2010,” Cleland states that Google does not break out what it pays for bandwidth, and so acknowledges that he’s basing his analysis of Google’s costs – his entire argument, in fact – on an estimate. He calls on Google to provide the actual number.

That request might be difficult for anyone to comply with. Cleland’s definition of bandwidth usage as it applies to a commercial organization is apparently unique, and is being widely criticized. If a subscriber uses Google’s search engine, or requests a video on YouTube, Cleland charges that bandwidth usage to Google, not to the individual subscriber.

More Broadband Direct:

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• Report: Google underpays for bandwidth

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