More corporate welfare for Google? Holding up the State of North Carolina?

It seems asking the U.S. Congress for a huge corporate welfare gift in net neutrality legislation is not enough to satisfy Google's insatiable appetite for special interest gifts from the government.

  • According to the Charlotte Observer, as picked up by Google Blog, Google, one of the most profitable and fast-growing companies in U.S. history, won't bless the state of North Carolina with their presence unless the State would give Google "secret" tax breaks to the tune of $89 million.

Seems like this is a real pattern for Google. 

Kudos to FCC Martin for proposing wireless broadband as info service

I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased that FCC Chairman Martin proactively released a proposed order that would reclassify wireless broadband as a Title I information service, as reported in today's Comm Daily. This order, which looks to have the support of the Republican majority, would continue to harmonize the regulatory treatment of all the major modes of broadband.

  • The FCC has already classified cable modems, DSL and BPL as unregulated info services.
  • Given the robustness of wireless competition in the U.S., reclassifying wireless broadband as an info service should be a no-brainer.
  • The FCC should also do another order to classify satellite broadband as an info service as well.

Why this is relevant to NN is that the expert agency overseeing competition in this market segment is concluding that there is sufficient competition to not require common carrier-like regulation.

  • The U. S. has three times more WiFi hotspots than any other country and more facilities-based wireless broadband investment and deployment than any other nation in the world through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Moreover,  Sprint and Clearwire are also beginning to build national WiMax networks.
  • Wireless competition is robust, clearly warranting an info services classification.  

  

Don't bother NN proponents with the facts on broadband competition...

As expected proponents of net neutrality ignore facts that don't push their anti-business, big government point of view. When the FCC broadband report is replete with powerful evidence that broadband competition and penetration are increasing impressively, NN proponents don't like the message so they shoot the messenger.

Comm Daily today quoted a Public Knowledge spokesperson who said:  the FCC numbers were "invalid" and that he wouldn't even "go there" what trends or developments the group sees in the report because it is "measuring a world that does not comport with reality."

Wireless broadband dominates broadband growth in FCC Broadband Report

Evidence continues to mount that the broadband sector is increasingly competitive and that it is not the permanent cable/DSL "duopoly" that net neutrality supporters claim. The FCC just released its biannual report on high speed of broadband adoption and the new evidence showing more competition is powerful.

The most important takeaway from the FCC's report is that 58% or 7.9m of the 11.0m total broadband adds over the first six months of 2006 were wireless broadband -- NOT DSL or cable modem.  That's not how a "permanent DSL/Cable duopoly" behaves -- is it?

Apparently Microsoft may not rejoin ItsOurNet after all... what I've learned

In my digging around to find out if Microsoft would be rejoining the ItsOurNet.com pro-net neutrality coalition, I have learned enough that strongly suggests to me that Microsoft may not be rejoining ItsOurNet now that the AT&T merger is complete.

Why I believe this is that I heard Microsoft is telling both sides behind-the-scenes -- the ItsOurNet crowd and the NetCompetition crowd -- the same story.

  • A Microsoft Rep is telling others that they are not for net neutrality, but that they do share some of the concerns that pro-net neutrality companies have.
  • More specifically, where Microsoft reportedly parts company with the ItsOurNet coalition is over the whether the modifiers "just" and "reasonable" are used in mandating non-discrimination by broadband carriers.  
    • Microsoft reportedly believes that there should be no "unjust" or "unreasonable" discrimination by broadband carriers, which is similar to the traditional seventy-year old common carrier language found in Sections 201 and 202.
    • The ItsOurNet coalition is taking the harder line that the non-discrimination requirement should be an unambiguous ban like the 11 year-old language found in Section 251(c)(3) that does not have any qualifiers like just or reasonable.
      • (It is important to note that the 251(c)(3) language that ItsOurNet is holding firm to get, is precisely the 1996 Telecom Act language that was most fought over at the FCC and in the courts -- and that ultimately had to involve the Supreme Court -- twice. The 251(c)(3) language proved to be some of the most controversial legal language and mandates ever in the history of telecom in the U.S.)  

This take on Microsoft's new position makes sense to me for three reasons.

Tibits on why ItsOurNet website is down

Today I asked some of the folks that are members of ItsOurNet.com why their site has been down for a week. All tried to downplay the significance.

One said that they had changed vendors and that the site being down is not related to Microsoft withdrawing from ItsOurNet last fall. That rep went on to say that all the ItsOurnet folks are focused on influencing the grassroots, and that they will be working more closely with SaveTheInternet and FreePress because there may not be the need for both websites.

  • I expressed my surprise that the ItsOurNet companies thought that SaveTheInternet would allow them to join SaveTheInternet as a member given that they have a disclaimer on the front page of their website that states: "No corporation, trade group or political party funds the SaveTheInternet campaign."  
    • Either the ItsOurNet rep I talked to was misinformed about SaveTheInternet's publicly disclosed representation that they don't take funds from corporations (which would include them), or there is more coordination going on under the public disclosure radar than either side is disclosing or representing to the public.
    • Since Common Cause is a member of SaveTheInternet and has been a vocal opponent of corporate "astro-turfing" I guess that the online giants have not gotten the "memo" that they are not supposed to say in public that they are closely coordinating their grass roots efforts with SaveTheInternet. 
      • Oh I forgot, advocating a corporate position against net neutrality is "astro-turfing," but a ItsOurNet-SaveTheInternet "quiet" cooperation with corporations would be "grass roots." Bad guys astroturf. Good guys grass root. Oh I got it.    
    • In my review today of the multitudes of coalition member links that are part of the SaveTheInternet coalition:
      • It is interesting to note what a couple call themselves: one is a blog called "I Hate Bush" and another is a blog called the "democratic underground."
        • I guess somebody didn't scrub the list very well to maintain the facade of bipartisanship SaveTheInternet tries to represent.
      • Dozens of "small businesses" are also listed as coalition members.
        • (I was amused that SaveTheInternet does not consider "small businesses" to be a corporation." Maybe they in fact are not contributing money, but it would be interesting to hear their explanation to the IRS of why a small business is not a "corporation.")

Another ItsOurNet member rep, Alan Davidson, Head of Google's Washington's office, told me today that he did not know why the website was down and said the fact that he didn't know about it being down for a week was evidence that Google is not the "puppet master" behind-the-scenes of the net neutrality movement that they are made out to be.

Nothing neutral about search fraud

According to Investors Business Daily, a new study by Click Forensics said that 14.2% of all clicks to paid search ads, or one of every seven ad clicks, are fraudulent. Google and Yahoo are disputing the study.

  • Click Forensics CEO, Tom Cuthbert said: "Click fraud is getting more prevalent, easier to commit and more difficult to catch and identify."

It seems the dominant search gatekeepers, Google with 47% share and Yahoo with 28% share, have a serious integrity issue at the heart of the search engine advertising business model.

What's happened to ItsOurNet's Website? Its been offline for about 5 days...

I often visit ItsOurNet.org to see if they have anything new. I also look to see if Microsoft has rejoined ItsOurNet like they said they would after the close of the AT&T merger. Well the AT&T merger closed a month ago and still no word from Microsoft.)

What is new and interesting is that the Itsournet.org official web site has been down since at least last Thursday and maybe longer -- meaning you can't even get to their previously public website -- without a user name and a password. It ominously says "authorization required." 

Is Google-Youtube a politically "neutral" gateway to Internet content and videos?

An article about Google's top lobbyist in the The Politico.com, a new media outlet that is dedicated to Politics, got me thinking about connecting-the-dots for Washington folks about the lack of Google-YouTube political "neutrality."   

  • There is an increasing body of evidence that Google may be less concerned about promoting a free, open and "democratic" Internet, and more concerned with promoting a regulated Internet for the benefit of "Democrats."

The Politico article noted: 

My Legislative Outlook for Net Neutrality -- An enlightening read not to be missed

Now that the Democratic-controlled Congress is back in full swing, and now that a lot of cards have been put on the table, its helpful to take stock of where we are on the net neutrality issue. Below I provide: an overview, a Senate outlook and a House outlook. 

My bottom line analysis is that there is a very low liklihood of net neutrality legislation passing in this Congress, despite the hype.

  • That said, I have seen nothing that would suggest that net neutrality won't remain a leading techcom issue in Washington for years to come.  

Overview:

Given that net net neutrality advocates really want a change in the law, they badly blew their golden opportunity last year to get net neutrality principles into law -- by wildly overplaying the moderately strong hand they had last year.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths