Last week, Google announced they would soon begin building high-speed broadband networks. They’re currently taking requests to select the markets where they’ll begin—but it’s still not too soon for at least one former FCC chair to endorse the idea.
Former FCC chairman Michael K. Powell, blogging for Broadband for America, says that Google’s effort is further proof that network investment and innovation matter to the future of the Internet. Google’s success is built upon the success of the Internet, he says, and as Internet speeds improve, so does access to Google and the vast stores of information on the Internet.
Basically, Powell encourages the current FCC board not to block Google’s move into the ISP realm:
the FCC should take note that it is the extraordinary success that Google has enjoyed as a search and applications platform as well as one of America’s premiere advertising media that has generated the cash necessary to engage in this kind of high-capital cost experiment. . . .
So, if we look at the development of the internet as we know it today it is clear that the best way to innovation is for the government, academia, and private corporations to cooperate – each building on what the other can provide. What we have to very careful about is allowing one of the legs of that stool, either by design or by accident, to cut off one of the other legs. . . .
As the FCC completes its work on a National Broadband Policy, it should keep in mind that it should promote competition, foster innovation, and encourage all three of the historical partners in the development of the internet to continue and enhance that partnership.
Powell, son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, was appointed to the FCC in 1997 by Bill Clinton. George W. Bush made Powell chairman of the commission in 2001, where Powell served until 2005. The current chairman, Julius Genachowski, was appointed last June by Barack Obama.
Traditionally, the FCC (and other federal regulatory bodies) and Google aren’t exactly the best of friends. Just in the last few months, the commission has inquired about Google’s Nexus One termination fees and eyed Google Voice’s rural call blocking. Google has long been among those lobbying the commission for Net Neutrality. But will Google’s move into the ISP industry hurt their argument for Net Neutrality, even with Powell’s endorsement?
What do you think?
Hat tip: Simon Owens