October 18, 2013
Google Fiber 'Fair Use' Policies are Fair and Reasonable
By Gary Kim
Google (News - Alert) does not often receive praise from Scott Cleland. So when Google does get such praise, it is worth noting. The occasion is Google Fiber’s recent clarifications of policy on what fair use of Google Fiber does and does not entail for consumer customers.
The clarification is part of a long history of sharp disagreements between some customers and advocates who argue “customers have paid for their unlimited usage connections, and therefore should have the right to do what they like with that service.”
In other words, if such users wish to share their connection with neighbors, with or without commercial payment, run their business servers using such connections, or re-purpose those consumer connections for anything other than personal consumption, they should be able to do so, some argue.
ISPs do not agree, and neither does Google Fiber. Google “deserves kudos for standing up to net neutrality critics who want no restrictions on the use of their broadband service, and for standing firm on principle in its new terms of service that Google enjoys the broadband freedom to price-discriminate between consumer and commercial customers, and also between broadband use that doesn’t compete with Google Fiber, and broadband use that does compete with Google Fiber, because the latter would undermine Google Fiber’s ability to earn a return on its substantial infrastructure investment,” says Cleland.
Google recently clarified its terms of service to allow normal consumer broadband usage that involves a server that enables consumer applications like home security, multi-player gaming, and video conferencing, but continues to prohibit commercial use of servers on a consumer contract.
The Google Fiber Acceptable Use Policy does clarify that users must “agree not to use or allow third parties to use the Services provided to you for any of the following purposes.”
The policy also clarifies that consumers do not have the right to use their connections for commercial purposes, or make that service available to others “outside the property to which the services are delivered.”
It always is easy to criticize somebody else’s revenue model. But this is simple economics. Google Fiber is intensely capital intensive, and Google Fiber needs to recover its costs. And yes, “profits” are part of the foundation for continuing to provide the service.
Though Cleland rarely has too much good to say about Google, the support of Google Fiber terms and conditions of service are a relatively rare exception. Some would say the defense of reasonable terms and conditions of service is a well-founded and necessary requirement for a provider of gigabit access for $70 a month.
Edited by Alisen Downey
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