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Implications of Google's Broadband Plans for Competition and Regulation -- Part 1 Modernization Consensus Series

Google's latest broadband pilot, experimenting with micro-cell (mesh) wireless broadband in its Mountain View headquarters, comes on top of Google Fiber's high-profile, commercial broadband pilot in Kansas City, that Google's CFO recently told investors was not a "hobby" but a real business opportunity.

These broadband pilots put a spotlight on Google's overall broadband plans and beg an analysis of the potential implications of Google's broadband plans for competition and regulation.

Summary of Conclusions:

  1. Securing much-faster broadband access for its users is a strategic imperative for Google.
  2. Google can offer much-faster broadband access, more widely, less expensively, and potentially more profitably, than conventional wisdom believes.
  3. Competitively Google is counting on favorable industrial policy to accelerate rollout of its broadband offering in the U.S.
  4. The more Google offers broadband access the more it will need modernization of obsolete communications laws.
  5. Potential FCC Title II regulation of broadband could be the single biggest threat to Google's ultra-fast broadband plans.

 

Top Ten Unanswered Questions on FTC-Google Antitrust Outcome -- Google Unaccountability Series Part 15

The FTC's reported closing of its Google search bias investigation with no real enforceable settlement mechanism and a special new self-enforcement antitrust precedent apparently only available to Google, raises serious questions about the integrity of the FTC's law enforcement process and whether the FTC accords Google with special treatment not available to other companies.

This matter raises many more troubling questions than the top ten unanswered questions raised in this piece, but these questions zero in on many of the most glaring irregularities for Congressional overseers, the media and government watchdogs to follow up on.

Google's Twelve Days of Christmas -- A Satire

Please sing to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

On the twelfth day of Christmas the FTC gave to me:

Twelve winkers winking

Eleven fibbers fibbing

Ten bluffs a bluffing

Nine Google's poodles

Eight flacks a flacking

Seven fawns a fawning

Six cov-er-ups

No enforce-ment! ...

Four lap-dog-gies

Three big passes

Two lame-ex-cuses

Troubling Irregularities Mount in FTC Commissioners' Handling of Google Antitrust Investigation -- Part 14 Google Unaccountability Series

The mounting number of unprecedented, inexplicable, and troubling irregularities in the FTC's cumulative law enforcement record of Google warrants oversight by Congress and renewed vigilance by other law enforcement officials -- State Attorneys General, the DOJ, and the European Commission -- in order to maintain the integrity and deterrent value of the antitrust law enforcement process.

Each of the following sets of facts and circumstances in the FTC's law enforcement experience with Google have raised eyebrows, together there is head-shaking cumulative evidence that reeks of either special treatment for Google or political interference by Google in the process.

Consider the following evidence to judge for yourself if something appears amiss here.

Only Google has been able to get FTC commissioners to twice politically overrule staff recommendations to prosecute after in-depth antitrust investigations, in approving Google-AdMob despite "serious concerns," and in rushing to close the current Google search bias investigation without seeking the most incriminating evidence available.

My Op-ed for The Hill: Courts Not FTC Should Decide on Google's Practices

Please don't miss my new Op-ed for The Hill here, entitled "Courts, Not FTC, Should Decide On Google Practices."

Simply, why shouldn't a court of law, based on the law, due process and the facts be the entity to ultimately decide if Google is guilty or innocent of deceptive search bias, not the FTC?


 

Oversight Questions for FTC's Handling of Google Antitrust Probe -- Part 12 Google Unaccountability Series

The number and seriousness of irregularities, deficiencies, and unanswered questions in the FTC's antitrust investigation of Google's alleged search bias warrant oversight by the Senate and House Antitrust Subcommittees and investigative reporting by the media.

Why FTC Can't Responsibly End the Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation -- Part 11 Google Unaccountability Series

Press reports indicate that some at the FTC may be questioning if there is sufficient evidence to prove in court the search bias charges recommended by FTC prosecutors. What the media surprisingly has yet to report is that the FTC still has not yet gained access to the thousands of known and likely most-incriminating Google emails and documents that Google has withheld from antitrust investigators -- per the Texas Attorney General's petition to a Federal Court last June.

Intimations that there is no search bias case to prosecute when Google clearly has stonewalled and not fully cooperated with antitrust investigators impugns the integrity of the FTC law enforcement process. These intimations also suggest that Google thinks that its case will be not be decided on the law, merits and evidence, but on political pressure it can bring to bear on the prosecution decision or settlement process.

FTC-Google Antitrust: The Obvious Case for Consumer Harm -- Part 10 Google Unaccountability Series

Despite reports questioning the evidence of consumer harm in the FTC antitrust investigation of Google, it's obviously there if the FTC chooses to charge Google under its Section 5 authority which prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." The legal threshold for proving consumer harm under Section 5 versus the Sherman Act is dramatically easier for the FTC prosecution to meet. Thus press reports about Google consumer harm are implicitly more about the furious debate over which law(s) to use than it is about the provability of consumer harm.

A main argument the FTC made to win the turf battle over which antitrust agency would lead the Google antitrust investigation, the DOJ or FTC, was that the FTC had Section 5 authority, in addition to the Sherman Act anti-monopolization authority that the DOJ and FTC both share. Unlike antitrust precedent from the Sherman Act, which guides that consumer harm should outweigh any offsetting innovation or consumer benefits, Congress in Section 5 declared deceiving consumers is illegal harm of consumers.

Could Google Be the Lance Armstrong of Tech? Internet as Oz Series Part 5

David Carr's (NYT) excellent analysis of how the mainstream media missed the truth behind cycling legend Lance Armstrong's systematic cheating and deception -- that ultimately led to the International Cycling Union stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles, to Nike dropping him as a sponsor, and to his resignation as Chairman of his cancer-survivor foundation LIveStrong -- got me thinking about the many sad parallels there are with how the mainstream media and blogosphere have missed the truth behind tech legend Google's systematic cheating and deception.

Just like the mainstream and sports media had much self-interest and fear in challenging Mr. Armstrong's representations, i.e. the loss of advertising and reporter access to top people in the sport, the mainstream media and tech blogosphere also have much self-interest and fear in challenging Google's representations, because Google is the overwhelming source of Internet traffic for the media (via Google Search, News, YouTube, and Android), and is also the primary monetization mechanism for the blogosphere.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths