The-Subsidy-That-Must-Not-Be-Named

September 8, 2009

Harry Potter fans know there is “He-who-must-not-be-named.”

  • Well it appears that there is also a potentially multi-billion subsidy of a company that just may be “the-subsidy-that-must-not-be-named.”

Unbenownst to me until I read about it in Communications Daily, the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) cited my 12-08 Precursor research study in a submission to the FCC about how Universal Service may interact with the National Broadband Plan.

The reason I am blogging about this now is:

  • First to address a Google charge:
    • a Google spokesman said NTCA has cited a Cleland study that was “thoroughly discredited” by numerous independent people including Gartner, Ars Technica, and Information Week,” per Communications Daily; and
  • Second, because Communications Daily did not give me the opportunity to respond or refute Google’s blanket assertion.  

Given the interest in affordable universal broadband, I endeavored to explore the highly relevant issue about whether, Google, the entity that uses the most, and benefits the most, from Internet bandwidth, contributes to its cost recovery commensurate with its benefit.

  • Given that taxpayers contributed $7b to rural broadband in the stimulus, and that many are examining if/how Universal Service mechanisms could be updated or modified to promote universal broadband, its not surprising to inquire if the biggest current beneficiaries are contributing their fair share of the increasing cost.
  • Not only have Universal Service contributions long been based on usage, the implicit social contract here implies that “with freedom comes responsibility” and “with rights come obligations.

My first question is — is it a legitimate line of inquiry to explore if the largest Internet beneficiaries are paying their fair share of the Internet’s costs?

  • Or is that the “research-question-that-must-not-be-asked?

My second question is — does Google have a better methodology or estimate of their bandwidth usage and bandwidth contribution to cost?

  • Or is that the-embarassing-information-that-must-not-be-disclosed?

I was very open in the presentation of my conclusions that:

  • It was a difficult imperfect series of estimates to make;
  • Others would likely disagree and could suggest better methods of estimation; and
  • By sharing my methodology and numbers I encouraged other researchers to improve upon the methodology and estimates.

If Google is so confident that the conclusions of my research are wrong — that Google is the biggest user of Internet bandwidth and uses much more bandwidth that it pays for — why not disclose how much Google pays in bandwidth, so it does not have to estimated, and why not openly share how much/often Google’s bots crawl all the Internet’s pages and how much bandwidth is used by youTube’s Internet broadcasting?

Otherwise are we going to have:

  • “the-question-the-National-Broadband-Plan-must-not-ask?
  • “the-slice-of-Universal-broadband-costs-that-must-not-be-estimated?
  • the-company-that-must-not-be-questioned?

Google is shooting the messenger here because they don’t want the message to be heard.

  • Fair and open-minded people should read the study and judge for themselves.
  • This is clearly open-minded information Google does not want to be found. 

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