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Google Fiber, in 2010, brought new blood into the internet space, long debated as a market with price fixing and substandard service. The provider of the #1 search engine believed it could take on ISPs (internet service providers) and actually deliver on 1 Gig speeds. The endeavor ultimately ended in failure, but for what reasons?
Make sure to read our companion article on traffic shaping, the alleged practice where ISPs throttle (slow down) your internet.
Key Questions to Consider
The Zero Theft Movement is committed to ridding the rigged layer of the U.S. economy. One by one, we need to pinpoint and democratically decide by vote which areas of the economy are rigged against the American public. In this article, we want to shed some light on the case of Google Fiber.
The ISP Monopoly?
With the rapid growth of video streaming services, music streaming, and online gaming, the demands on broadband have never been greater. And those demands will only build over time.
But have ISPs been keeping up with said demands?
According to a 2013 report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, broadband service has been lagging behind for years.
“…as multiple household members increasingly consume video streaming services, music streaming, and online games, the adequate broadband speed bar has been raised. To understand just how slow 3 Mbps is, it takes about 2.25 hours to download a 6 gigabyte movie. The same movie would only take 16 minutes to download at 25 Mbps.”
“At somewhat higher speeds, such as 10 Mbps, the typical person still is able to choose among two fixed ISPs. The typical person also has the option of choosing among three mobile ISPs. [O]nly 37 percent of the population had a choice of two or more providers at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater; only 9 percent had three or more choices. Moreover, four out of ten Americans did not live where very-high-speed broadband service – 100 Mbps or greater – is available. Of those with access to broadband at this speed level, only 8 percent had access to two or more providers; 1 percent had access to three or more. Only 3 percent of the population had 1 Gbps or greater available; none had two or more ISPs at that speed.”
Broadband service in 2020
New America, a nonpartisan think tank, released their Cost of Connectivity report for 2020. The global study examines 760 internet plans across the globe, including 290 in the U.S. The think tank ultimately concludes that “people can expect to pay more for internet service in the United States than in Asia or Europe.”
Here is a striking excerpt from the study:
“Out of 290 plans in our U.S. dataset, 118 have advertised initial promotional prices of $50 and under—and only 64 of these plans advertise speeds that meet the current FCC minimum definition for broadband [25 mbps]. In addition, some ISPs have abandoned low-income neighborhoods in a form of ‘digital redlining’…The extent of ISPs’ market power [spans] high monthly prices to the pervasiveness of early termination fees and lock-in contracts that inhibit competition. ISPs also broker exclusive deals with landlords to gain a monopoly on apartment buildings, leaving residents with no other choice of provider.”
- Are ISPs providing sufficient broadband speeds to the American public?
By the numbers
In 2018, according to a Comparitech article, ISP lobbyists spent more than any other year prior. They shelled out “$80 million.” Below is a list of the top 10 ISPs by amount paid to lobbyists. The rest of the top spenders can be found in the Comparitech article linked above.
|ISP||2018 Lobbying Expenses|
|Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA – 2007)||$8,105,000.00|
But hefty campaign donations alone don’t guarantee regulatory capture. Furthermore, it is hard, if not impossible, to prove a causal relationship between Pay to Play politics and legislation/regulation that favors ISPs who ‘buy’ members of congress.
Allegations of ISPs’ influence
Techdirt contributor Karl Bode published an article in 2016 stating the following:
“For more than fifteen years now, companies like Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink have quite literally paid state legislatures to write protectionist broadband laws. These laws, passed in around 20 states, protect the incumbent duopoly [AT&T and Time Warner Cable merger] from the faintest specter of broadband competition—by preventing towns and cities from either building their own broadband networks, or from striking public/private partnerships to improve lagging broadband networks.”
In 2014, Harvard researcher Susan Crawford wrote a report about Washington D.C.’s fiber work. Slate Magazine quoted her unfortunately inaccessible report: “First, the city agreed not to lease or sell the fiber. Second, the contract required that the city not ‘engage in any activities or outcomes that would result in business competition between the District and Comcast or that may result in loss of business opportunity for Comcast.’”
BroadbandNow, a website assisting American consumers find the best internet plan in their area, released its annual report of ‘roadblocked’ states for 2020. The site uses the term ‘roadblock’ to refer to both the same or similar laws that Bode mentions in his Techdirt article and governmental red tape.
BroadbandNow highlighted these two key findings from its report:
- 22 states now have substantive roadblocks to establishing municipal networks to residents, down from last year’s 25. Arkansas, California and Connecticut now permit such networks in full.
- Residents in states with no roadblocks or restrictions in place against municipal broadband have, on average, 10% greater access to low-price broadband (which we classify as any standalone internet plan $60 per month or less).
- Does proper competition exist between ISPs in order to reduce prices for services and encourage motivation?
- Have some cities and states come under regulatory capture? Are they selling out their residents by reducing competition?
A Big Bang Disruption
In response to the stagnation of ISPs, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a bold new initiative in 2009: The National Broadband Plan. The mission was to improve internet access across the U.S., hoping to bring at least 100 million Americans speeds of 100 Mbps by 2020.
Search engine giant Google jumped at the opportunity after finding out over a thousand cities were interested in being a part of the company’s proposed high-speed, fiber-based network. Thus, what people thought would be the Big Bang disruption of the internet industry began.
Google Fiber was in the driver’s seat, with cities scrambling to be a part of the internet revolution. The company generated so much interest that it created a checklist, criteria cities needed to meet to be eligible for consideration. Google essentially wanted cities to eliminate red tape, especially ‘rights-of-way’ owned or controlled by third parties (i.e. ISPs).
Big corporations can essentially pay to influence legislation and regulation in order to unethically profit off us, the public.
Don’t believe us? See what your fellow citizens think…
Google Fiber Pricing
|Package||Starting Price||Speed||Data Cap||Contract?|
|Fiber 1000||$70/mo.||Download and upload up to 1000Mbps||None||No|
|WEBPASS||$70/mo.||100 Mbps to 1000Mbps, depending on location||None`||Monthly price drops to $59 if you sign a one-year contract|
*prices as of 11/16/2020
Google Fiber used to offer a $50/mo., 100Mbps option to newcomers but discontinued it near the end of 2019. Nevertheless, the 1000Mbps, or 1 Gig, option was the truly revolutionary offering anyway, and has remained the same price since its release ($70/mo.).
Moving forward, it’s important to note the 1 Gig speed applies to downloading and uploading. Download speed dictates how fast you receive things from the internet (e.g. your streaming quality). Uploading speed determines how fast you can share things to the internet (e.g. video chat, sending a file, etc.).
According to IT solution provider GDT, “Google Fiber prompted ISPs to build next-gen networks much sooner than they had planned. Google would announce expansion plans to include a city, and incumbent ISPs serving that city would soon broadcast plans to pump dollars into the infrastructure and deliver higher speeds and lower prices to its residents.”
Competition bred long-absent innovation and price drops. All developments that would benefit the American public.
As the article by GDT claims, major ISPs began rolling out their own high-speed options to compete with the new competition.
The Verge, however, points out: “…Comcast conveniently neglects to mention Google Fiber’s real competitive advantages in its chart, which are the only ones that really matter: the price customers have to pay and the quality of service they get. Fiber is cheaper, doesn’t lock customers into a 36-month contract, and is actually faster, since Comcast’s gigabit plan only offers 35Mbps upload speeds. To get symmetrical speeds, customers would have to opt for Comcast’s ‘Gigabit Pro’ service, which offers 2 gigabit upload/download speeds. That plan costs $299.95 a month.”
ISPs arguably did not welcome the new competition, however.
Ars Technica reported on a dispute between major internet providers and Google in Nashville:
“Comcast’s complaint in US District Court in Nashville is similar to one already filed by AT&T last month. Both ISPs are trying to invalidate a One Touch Make Ready ordinance that lets new ISPs make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles themselves instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires. The ordinance was passed largely to benefit Google Fiber, which is offering service in Nashville but says that it hasn’t been able to deploy faster because it is waiting to get access to thousands of poles.”
The news outlet later reported the results of the complaint:
“But AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government to eliminate the rule and won a preliminary victory in November when a US District Court judge in Tennessee nullified the rule as it applies to poles owned by AT&T and other private parties. The next step for AT&T and Comcast was overturning the rule as it applies to poles owned by the municipal Nashville Electric Service (NES), which owns around 80 percent of the Nashville poles. AT&T and Comcast achieved that on Friday with a new ruling from US District Court Judge Aleta Trauger.”
- Do ISPs have control over network infrastructure, including utility poles?
- If they do, does that allow them to cut out competition?
- Did they prevent Google Fiber from providing another potentially better service for consumers?
Do ISPs Monopolize the Market by Blocking Competition?
Google Fiber, the brainchild of a tech giant, was allegedly obstructed by ISPs but also failed to properly understand the costs involved in entering the wired internet market. Moving forward, we will need to see how wireless broadband plays out; but for now, we ask these questions:
- Do major ISPs control the market by obstructing competition from newcomers?
- Does that prevent the American public from receiving the best internet services, at competitive prices?
- If you believe the answer to the previous two questions is ‘yes,’ then is it theft?
Now, it’s your turn to play your part. With the evidence we have presented in this article, you can contribute to our movement to eradicate the rigged layer of the economy by voting on whether you think traffic shaping and the case of Google Fiber as instances of the rigged economy.
Your vote helps citizens figure out how much is getting ripped off and by whom. That gives us the power, based on strong evidence, to start holding those gaming the system accountable for profiting unethically. All of us must decide democratically, by a vote.
If you are still uncertain, your fellow citizens have investigated the issue and presented their own cases for why they believe or don’t believe the corporate tax rate should be viewed as rigged economy theft.
Eradicate the Rigged Layer with the Zero Theft Movement
The rigged layer of the U.S. economy rips all of us off, including YOU. Crony capitalists and officials who have succumbed to regulatory capture have created the 50 years of wage stagnation and violations of antitrust laws.
The Zero Theft Movement seeks to end the corporatocracy and rid moneyed interests from politics. Our mission is, and will continue to be, on waking up 330 million American citizens to the truth. We can all profit from an ethical, powerful, and safe economy if we stand up against the crony capitalists.
Will you refuse this call to action, or take action to eliminate the rigged layer of the economy?
View how much is being stolen, according to the public
Investigate your areas of interest
All areas of our economy could be experiencing rigging by crony capitalists and corrupt officials. We need to systematically investigate each instance in order to find out if best evidence suggests it is truly rigged.
Investigations into the finance sector
Investigations into the healthcare industry
Alternatively, find an area that interests you most.
Serve your fellow citizens as a citizen investigator
The success of our movement rests in your hands, the leaders willing to dedicate time to conduct investigations into potentially rigged areas of the economy. With your valuable work, the movement has no solid ground to stand on, no foundations, no proof, to actually hold those corrupting our system accountable for their actions.
Commitment to nonpartisanship
The rigged layer causes all of us to suffer, regardless of our political allegiances. If we are to eliminate rigged economy theft, we have to set aside our differences and band together against crony capitalists and corrupt officials.
Free Educational Content
An educated public is an empowered public.
We regularly publish informative articles on ZeroTheft.net that teach you all about the rigged layer of the economy in short, digestible pieces. You can better protect yourself and others from the schemes of crony capitalists by reading our articles.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.