How neutrality locks in the web's 'Hyper Giants'

What Google-Verizon means for you


Some nets are more neutral than others

Because Google isn't a telco, or isn't Microsoft, people assume it must be a White Knight, and therefore doing everything for all the best possible reasons. But Google isn't obliged to do charity, or perform utopian deeds - it just does what's best for Google. And sometimes what's best for Google is making sure the next Google doesn't get any favours. That's naivety.

Then there's the ignorance. I've often wondered how technology utopians seem to have a 'birthing' moment, much as enthusiasts for LSD or MDMA do too. Their mental model of the world is frozen in time, at the moment they first discovered the wonders of the drug net, so how the world looked in 1994, or in 2002, then must be the one true explanation; the ever-shifting politics and power plays of the present must be buried under a unifying nostalgic memory, or sweeping generalisation. You will this true for any Berkman Center alumini, or any Web 2.0 evangelist.

Well, things change. It's no longer accurate to think of a hierarchical network core. And things are changing fast. Google wasn't even in the top 20 originators of traffic in 2007, but last year it was third - Google's private network grew annually from 3.4 per cent of traffic, to six per cent, to around 10 per cent this year. (For more see the most recent Atlas Internet Observatory annual report - pdf.) Surprisingly, perhaps, Comcast also shot into the Top 10.

Behold the "Hyper-Giants"
Source: Atlas IO Report 2009

Even Robert X Cringely only gets it half right in this New York Times op-ed, speculating that a Verizon-Google deal is all about plugging data center containers into Verizon facilities. Which makes for a dramatic movie scene - particularly if they plug them in at 3am, on a cloudy night, under a New Moon.

But it's clear that Cringely doesn't know that this is what's already happened - the caching servers are already doing the job quite nicely. And declining backbone bills aren't "wishful thinking", as Cringely muses, but an economic reality for the past four years. (All in all, this is not the Times' finest piece of industry analysis.)

When Microsoft tied up the office software business, few Lotus or WordPerfect users failed to realise the market was changing - but very few web users now notice how much it's changed.

Pro-neutrality campaigners are now furious at being thrown under a bus. They might be more furious to discover Google lobbying for rules it would never have to abide by itself.

But the campaigners never took the trouble to understand how the internet works, nor how that has been changing. By painting the world into White and Dark Knights, they were unable to envisage the kind of Verizon-Google deal that is already the norm: where incumbents put their differences aside, and discover they have something wonderful in common: the desire to repel newcomers.

I don't expect Google to drop the Net Neutrality campaign completely - not when neutrality for others gives it such a useful competitive advantage. ®

Bootnote

A real net neutrality law would have to give every company equal access at equal rates to Akamai or Google's caching servers - and I can't see that happening, not even in North Korea. Can you?

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Chip shortage forces temporary Raspberry Pi 4 price rise for the first time

    Ten-buck increase for 2GB model 'not here to stay' says Upton

    The price of a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer is going up $10, and its supply is expected to be capped at seven million devices this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage.

    Demand for components is outstripping manufacturing capacity at the moment; pre-pandemic, assembly lines were being red-lined as cloud giants and others snapped up parts fresh out of the fabs, and the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak really threw a spanner in the works, so to speak, exacerbating the situation.

    Everything from cars to smartphones have been affected by semiconductor supply constraints, including Raspberry Pis, it appears. Stock is especially tight for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 models, we're told. As the semiconductor crunch shows no signs of letting up, the Raspberry Pi project is going to bump up the price for one particular model.

    Continue reading
  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading
  • China to allow overseas investment in VPNs but Beijing keeps control of the generally discouraged tech

    Foreign ownership capped at 50%

    After years of restricting the use and ownership of VPNs, Beijing has agreed to let foreign entities hold up to a 50 per cent stake in domestic VPN companies.

    China has simultaneously a huge market and strict rules for VPNs as the country's Great Firewall attempts to keep its residents out of what it deems undesirable content and influence, such as Facebook or international news outlets.

    And while VPN technology is not illegal per se (it's just not practical for multinationals and other entities), users need a licence to operate one.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft unveils Android apps for Windows 11 (for US users only)

    Windows Insiders get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders.

    The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).

    WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine.

    Continue reading
  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    Companies using GPL software should meet their obligations, lawsuit says

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

    Continue reading
  • DRAM, it stacks up: SK hynix rolls out 819GB/s HBM3 tech

    Kit using the chips to appear next year at the earliest

    Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec.

    HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above another, connects them by vertical current-carrying holes called Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) to a base interposer board, via connecting micro-bumps, upon which is fastened a processor that accesses the data in the DRAM chip faster than it would through the traditional CPU socket interface.

    Seon-yong Cha, SK hynix's senior vice president for DRAM development, said: "Since its launch of the world's first HBM DRAM, SK hynix has succeeded in developing the industry's first HBM3 after leading the HBM2E market. We will continue our efforts to solidify our leadership in the premium memory market."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021