Google Fiber, the gigabit network that is live in Provo Utah and parts of Kansas City is facing its first big debate over network neutrality — it’s like a rite of passage for ISPs. As Wired reported on Tuesday, a Lawrence, Kansas resident filed a complaint with the FCC over Google’s terms of service, arguing that because Google prevented people from attaching servers to their fiber lines, Google was violating network neutrality rules.
The FCC deemed the complaint informal and passed it along to Google. Google’s defense in this matter was fourfold:
- Douglas McClendon, the man who filed the complaint, isn’t even a customer of Google Fiber and didn’t even live in an area the company served;
- Google prevents customers from operating servers on its network because Google Fiber is a residential and not business class service;
- The terms of service don’t violate network neutrality rules because preventing business users on a residential service was a reasonable way of dealing with network management;
- And finally, many ISPs contain the same provision against people operating servers on their networks.
Rather than showing Google going soft on network neutrality — although it totally has done so before – this tempest in a teapot could best be used to start two serious debates over broadband policy. The first is about the archaic definition of server in a world, that McClendon and the Wired article accurately point out is replete with them. The second is a debate about what constitutes business broadband as the lines between businesses and home users blur.
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