According to a widely circulating report by the Wall Street Journal, Google has apparently changed its stance on net neutrality and has asked internet service providers for a fast track for its content. The proposed plan, internally called OpenEdge, would place Google servers within each provider’s network allowing near immediate access to Google content. Such a request is contrary to Google’s previous net neutrality stance and opens the door for an internet where influential companies get fast access and everyone else gets slower access. The article at WSJ continues to elaborate upon this threat to net neutrality by citing how other companies, in particular Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon and prominent Internet scholars have also softened their stance on net neutrality. Though other companies and individuals may be wavering on net neutrality, Google has responded to the WSJ article and strongly reaffirmed its firm stance on net neutrality.
Google explained in a blog post that its OpenEdge project is a form of edge caching where Google’s caching servers are located within the broadband provider’s own facilities and that this arrangement does not violate the tenets of net neutrality. Google further defends edge caching by citing Akami, Limelight and Amazon Cloudfront which all use the same edge caching technology to ensure fast and smooth delivery of content. Google is not buying a faster pipe, it is just putting its content closer to the users. There is much debate over whether edge caching is against net neutrality. Technically, the ISP does not speed up Google and slow down other smaller web content providers but the placement of caching servers so close to the end user does enhance the user experience of content server up from those co-located servers. Regardless of where your opinion falls on edge caching, Google is indeed using its financial clout to pay ISPs in order to get preferential treatment, a supposition implied by the original WSJ article. For the time being however, it looks like our Internet is still free and open.
Read (Google’s response)
Read (Original Wall Street Journal article)