Google Again Learns It Ain’t Easy Being an Internet Service Provider
Awful at Being ISPs
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) get a really bad, nigh entirely undeserved rap.
Yes, in a quarter century of hiring ISPs I have had multiple bad customer service experiences.
Exactly as I have with every other service provider I have perpetually engaged for the last quarter century. And many sporadic provider hires too.
ISPs are populated by humans. Humans commit errors and make mistakes.
Everything is populated by humans. Humans commit errors and make mistakes.
But nothing in human history has grown better-bigger-faster - than the Internet. And the fundamental component in this mind-boggling growth - has been the ISPs.
Without the likes of:
AT&T (Market Cap: $279 billion)
Verizon (Market Cap: $242 billion) and
Comcast (Market Cap: $210 billion)
You never would have heard of the likes of:
Amazon (Market Cap: $1.1 trillion)
Google (Market Cap: $1.0 trillion) and
Facebook (Market Cap: $611 billion).
These relatively minuscule ISPs build the Information Superhighway - which have singularly made possible the growth of these relatively titanic companies.
Before you can use Amazon, Google and Facebook - you have to be able to get to Amazon, Google and Facebook.
All the while, the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook - are some of the biggest ISP ingrates on the planet.
Almost always against the interests of ISPs - and a free market.
ISPs make providing Internet service look pretty easy - but it ain’t.
We have lots of examples of these Big Tech non-ISPs pretending to be ISPs - and it never goes well.
The latest instance transpired in India - but is emblematic of the revolutionary evolution of the private delivery of Internet service everywhere…by professional ISPs.
“Google said on Monday that it is winding down Google Station, a program as part of which it worked with a number of partners to roll out free Wi-Fi in more than 400 railway stations in India and ‘thousands’ of other public places in several additional pockets of the world….
“(I)t had become difficult for Google to find a sustainable business model to scale the program, the company said, which in recent years expanded Station to Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Brazil, and Vietnam. The company launched the program in South Africa just three months ago….
“(A)s mobile data prices got cheaper in many markets including India, Google Station was no longer as necessary.…”
Get that? Private wireless ISPs are delivering such cheap data…they ran Google’s FREE Internet service out of business.
Was this Google’s first attempt at playing ISP dress-up? Heavens no.
They went all-in in the US. And….
“The future is still uncertain for Google Fiber, but it's pretty clear that the first iteration of the search giant's internet service has fallen short….
“While Google is an internet company, it's not an infrastructure company. And starting to build out infrastructure from the ground up is no easy task.”
It ain’t easy maintaining infrastructure, either. Or continually adding to its ever-more-incredible speed and load capacity.
Which professional ISPs are always and constantly doing.
Is it just Google play-acting at being an ISP? Heavens no. Before Google screwed it up in the Third World - Facebook screwed it up in the Third World.
“Five years ago Mark Zuckerberg debuted a bold, humanitarian vision of global internet. It didn’t go as planned - forcing Facebook to reckon with the limits of its own ambition….
“For three years, Zuckerberg included Internet.org in his top priorities, pouring resources, publicity, and a good deal of his own time into the project. He traveled to India and Africa to promote the initiative and spoke about it at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona two years in a row.
“He appeared before the UN General Assembly to push the idea that internet access was a human right. He amassed a team of engineers in his Connectivity Lab to work on internet-distribution projects, which had radically different production cycles than the software to which he was accustomed.”
But like Google, Zuck and his Facebook learned…being an ISP ain’t easy.
“Upon opening the app, users have to get by with a Bing search engine, a Johnson & Johnson-sponsored baby advice app, and a number of other sponsored apps. Facebook is usually the only popular social media app available on Free Basics, predictably, while smaller, language-specific apps like ConnectAmericas for Mexico and Colombia were found in certain cases. Free Basics doesn’t have an email platform….
“There are also language and content limitations. In Pakistan, for instance, Free Basics is only available in English and Urdu, leaving out Punjabi, Pashto, and other major languages. A similar problem exists in the other countries Global Voices studied. Most of the apps featured inside Free Basics are US and UK-based, with only one or two local options.”
ISP-ing is harder than it looks, ain’t it Zuck?
Zuckerberg appears to have figured out a way to surreptitiously pay for global free Internet service - which only served to greatly anger its recipients.
“No, Internet.org is not a nonprofit organization that subsidizes Internet access for new users….Internet.org is a business development group within Facebook aimed at increasing Facebook's users and revenue.”
Again - quite ironically - Facebook wasn’t enforcing the ridiculously stupid policy known as Network Neutrality.
Yes - this Net Neutrality:
Net Neutrality ain’t quite so much fun when you’re the ISP getting jammed with it, is it guys?
Yet despite all of this - far too many people remain steadfastly impervious to facts.
“Amazon the ISP. It sounds strange when you first hear it. Amazon, you think, is an online store. It lets you buy stuff over the Internet. Comcast and Verizon and Orange and Vodafone are the ISPs. They provide the Internet service to the world's homes and phones.
“But if you step back, just a little, you realize that Amazon is a natural ISP. One day, it could compete the Comcasts and the AT&Ts - or at least try to. You can see this in the way Amazon has already built its business. And you can see it in the ambitions of other Internet giants like Google and Facebook.”
Except…Google and Facebook have repeatedly stunk up the joint trying to be ISPs.
History and mountains of evidence - portend Amazon joining their non-ISP colleagues on the ISP ash heap of history.
One more thing:
If trillion-dollar-Big-Tech-companies that aren’t ISPs can’t make it as ISPs - how do you think government does?
Three guesses - the first two don’t count.
“For decades, local governments have made promises of faster and cheaper broadband networks. Unfortunately, these municipal networks often don’t deliver or fail, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Explore the map to learn about the massive debt, waste and broken promises left behind by these failed government networks.”
Look…I’m all for as much ISP competition as possible. But I’m also all for Reality.
Which means not pretending being an ISP is easy.
Which means acknowledging the incredible contribution ISPs have made and continue to make.
Which means not making things artificially more difficult for ISPs.
Which means they shouldn’t be singled out for additional regulatory and tax abuses like Net Neutrality - simply assuming “they’ll figure it out.”
(Also because it’s antithetical to equal protection before the law.)
Here’s a thought:
Appreciate ISPs - and leave them alone to continue doing the incredibly difficult thing they do so incredibly well.
This first appeared in Red State.