Eric, Vittorio, Barcelona: mixed messages on mobile net neutrality
I have no idea what type of net neutrality lite is proposed by either mobiles, Vodafone or Verizon. I think Eric Schmidt was applying balm to recent Android-induced wounds:
"I feel very, very strongly that we depend on successful businesses for the operators globally and I disagree that we are trying to turn the operators into dumb pipes," he said. "We need advanced sophisticated networks, we are not going to be investing in broad scale infrastructure, we are going to have the operators do it."
"Almost all of the interesting growth in operators now is coming from mobile data, so both Google and the operators are growing because of this explosion in usage," he said. "From our perspective we recognise that the operators have large fixed costs and they have also purchased bandwidth, which is limited in its nature, and so we are not trying to run roughshod over that principle. On the other hand, most of the operators are telling us that we, Google, should build applications that will help them sell their new higher speed services they are spending so much money on."
"Google defines net neutrality in the following way: if you have a content category like video we want to make sure that the operator does not favour one video [provider] over another because that would then allow the operator to pick winners in the category," he said. "Imagine a situation where the operator also owned a TV network and discriminated in favour of that TV programming against the other choices, that would not be seen as fair."
"The Google thing, the point there is a tricky point because it is not a technology point, the solution is to be able to freely deal up and down the value chain," he said after his speech. "So network operators, content owners, application owners should be able to freely deal and we should try and have competition in all segments. The fact that 80% of advertising online goes through one funnel, there's nothing wrong [with that]: to be clear, we use Google, we like Google … it is more of a structural point. You cannot develop a healthy data environment if you do not have competition at all levels. It is more of a point about the future debate about net neutrality than anything specific."
So get your Google tanks off our lawn, he says...
"Some of the FCC interpretations that I read seem to indicate rules on how to manage the thing and I do not think we should have those rules, I think we should have a free system. It is important that the new [European] commission in Europe, and to some extent the Federal Communications Commission in the US, take a holistic view of the whole value chain and ensure that the rules they put in place, whatever they are, are rules that really enable competition at all levels."
Do you really think mobiles want more competition and market entry? No, thought not. He describes how you pay more in Sicily to get your newspapers distributed earlier. Hmm, mobile phone market as competitive as Sicilian newsagents. Make Google an offer they can't refuse?