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Google Fiber, the 'Free Market Success Story' That Wasn't
Free Marketeers Celebrate Google Fiber, Ignore Subsidies
by Karl Bode 12:23PM Friday Sep 07 2012
A few weeks back we noted how Google's franchise deal with Kansas City for Google Fiber was a particularly sweet arrangement. Not only does the deal allow Google to walk away from the build in two years if things aren't going well, it allows Google the right to cherry pick markets as they see fit without penalty. To have their city chosen Kansas City was willing to make these concessions, which tells you everything you need to know about how KC (and the thousands of applying cities not selected) felt about the quality of existing services.

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Ars Technica offers an interesting read noting how Conservatives (like new FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and the CEI's Fred Campbell) are ironically championing Google Fiber as an example of a successful free market, despite the fact it's no such thing:
...the agreement between Google and Kansas City, MO, specifies that the city will "make space available to Google in City facilities for the installation of Google’s Central Office equipment and for additional network facilities," will "provide power necessary for Google’s equipment at City locations," and "will not charge Google for such space, power, or related services." Obviously, offering free (e.g. taxpayer-subsidized) power and rack space goes well beyond "regulatory concessions."
None of this is to say Google Fiber is necessarily bad; author Timothy Lee's point is that the free market (as it's portrayed in political rhetoric) is a bit of a myth, we need private and public funding to adequately wire the nation, and that free marketeers are somewhat inconsistent when it comes to what qualifies as a truly free market play. Lee also highlights how when you see someone in this industry whining about a "level playing field," the vast majority of the time they're interested in the exact opposite.

Apparently Campbell and Pai didn't get the memo stating that they were supposed to be outraged by government involvement in Google Fiber. They also didn't get the memo informing them that the free market has failed the United States broadband market in stellar fashion, resulting in slow, over-priced services in the majority of communities nationwide. Market failure is what prompted Google's entry into broadband in the first place, but to applaud it as a "free market success story" when it's subsidized, government-protected, not even up and running and will likely only exist in a few locations -- is fairly amusing.

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reply to Alex J

Re: Typical BBR article

I did read the article; hence I have quotes in it specifically saying what was said that I take issue with. Speaking of reading, did you read what preceded my comments you just replied to? My issue is that Karl is still whining about the terms on this public/private "success." He still whines about what he sees as the “sweetheart deal.” He still whines about them being allowed to “cherry pick” and pull out in two years. Evidently these were needed to make it worth Google while to build in their area.
In your second "rebuttal," government isn't doing much more than making some concessions on regulatory requirements. Google is building this network, not Kansas City and surrounding governments. Basically, their agreement is allowing them to build in a more pristine regulatory environment closer to what would be in place in a truly “free market.” So, how is it hypocritical for conservatives to say this is a good example of free market; the biggest thing the government is contributing in this case is getting a little more out of the way.


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reply to aerith

Re: Best quote by Karl Bode is

Wow, that’s the worst thing my eyes have ever been subjected to reading.
1) The last thing that is needed is the government to have any involvement is in broadband. Let private businesses compete and leave them alone. The government has absolutely no right to say how fast and how much an ISP must sell their service for.

2) I do not so much as one red cent of tax money to toward some ‘Universal Broadband’ nonsense

3) Let’s keep our own routers, so that we, as individuals and consumers have direct control over our home networks. There is absolutely no reason at all for my two desktops, laptop, two PDAs, two smartphones, tablet, MP3 Player, TV, Blu Ray Player, A/V Receiver, two DirecTV DVRs, Xbox 360, PS3 and printer to have their own public IP addresses. And I like the fact I can manage network access of all of these devices from one central location.

Good thing all of your wishes are a pipedream, and thankfully they weill never happen.
For the future of our nation, we must unite and vote out the terrorist known as Hussein Obama. Come November 6 2012 we must remove the socialist pig out of office and get our country back on the RIGHT track.