Google to become official Starbucks ISP as critics claim net neutrality backpedal

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Starbucks is switching away from AT&T and instead going with Google for the provision of free Wi-Fi service throughout its popular chain of coffeeshops, but the search giant's latest move into Internet service provision comes as critics are crying foul and saying it is abandoning net neutrality principles.



The switch was announced yesterday, according to The Wall Street Journal, which noted that Google will partner with Internet middleman Level 3 Communications to offer Starbucks customers Internet service about 10 times faster than the T1 connections currently provided by AT&T. AT&T will still supply Starbucks stores with assorted business services, but Starbucks' customers will no longer have AT&T-branded Internet access.

AT&T reportedly offered to upgrade its service to match its competitor's speed, but that offer was turned down for unknown reasons.

The new service will show up in some stores in beginning next week, though the report does not detail which locations. Over the next 18 months, though, all 7,000 of Starbucks' coffeeshops across the United States will eventually switch to the Level 3/Google service.

Representatives from Level 3 say that its company will "do the network stuff," while Google "will do what it does best in that relationship." Terms of the deal between the three firms have not been disclosed.

The Starbucks deal represents yet another of Google's continuing moves into the Internet service segment. Already, the search giant has become a service provider in limited areas with Google Fiber, a fiber-optic Internet service. That service debuted in the Kansas City metro area last year, but Google has confirmed that it will soon expand to Austin Texas.

Its move into service provision has rattled some of the industry's larger players, leaving cable companies in areas where Google Fiber currently exists or will exist soon scrambling to bump up speeds for their own customers. As Google becomes a larger player in that segment, though, critics are claiming that the company is abandoning some of the principles that the company has long stood by.

The Terms of Service for Google Fiber explicitly inform users that they "should not host any type of server using [a] Google Fiber connection," use the service to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or to provide commercial services to third parties. Some users have complained that this clause violates the Federal Communication's Open Internet Order, which prohibits fixed broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices.

Responding to the FCC's request for comment on allegations that Google was violating Net Neutrality rules, Google said that its terms do not in fact violate the Open Internet order. In a letter to the FCC ? obtained by Wired ? Google explained:
Google Fiber?s server policy is an aspect of ?reasonable network management? that the Open Internet Order and Rules specifically permit. Mr. McClendon appears to allege that Google Fiber?s server policy violates the prohibitions against ?blocking? and/or ?unreasonable discrimination." The Order, however, provides an exception in both instances for ?reasonable network management.? As the Order explains, ?[a] network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service.?

Google Fiber?s server policy is prototypical ?reasonable network management,? with no discriminatory impact on any content, application, or service provider. The server policy has been established to account for the congestion management and network security needs of Google Fiber?s network architecture, particularly given that Google Fiber does not impose data caps on its users.
Blocking the hosting of servers on a network is standard policy among most Internet Service Providers, and usually for the very reasons Google cites in its explanation. Google's continued advocacy and activism in digital arenas, though, has made it a target of more critics, who claim that the server terms are just another violation of the company's motto: Don't Be Evil.

Responding further to the controversy, Google sent a comment to Ars Technica. The comment is as follows:
"Google is a strong supporter of the open Internet and our stance here hasn't changed. This is a standard practice of network management, and as we said in our filing, the policy does not prevent legal, noncommercial use of applications such as multi-player gaming, video-conferencing, and home security."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 84
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    Yet another reason to avoid Starbucks.
    I'm a Peet's fan.
  • Reply 2 of 84
    bullheadbullhead Posts: 493member
    amazing how google has changed their position now they have to put their money where their mouth is...
  • Reply 3 of 84
    FaceTime to mysteriously stop working at Starbucks...
  • Reply 4 of 84
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,170member

    The Terms of Service for Google Fiber explicitly inform users that they "should not host any type of server using [a] Google Fiber connection," use the service to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or to provide commercial services to third parties. Some users have complained that this clause violates the Federal Communication's Open Internet Order, which prohibits fixed broadband providers from blocking lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices.

    Blocking the hosting of servers on a network is standard policy among most Internet Service Providers, and usually for the very reasons Google cites in its explanation.

    That's really all AI really had to say and they're absolutely correct. It's a standard policy for every ISP that I can think of. It's hardly an issue of "net neutrality".

    Google has a discussion thread here where they explain it to their service users more clearly:
    http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/fiber/-ixejP9yHj4
  • Reply 5 of 84
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Its move into service provision has rattled some of the industry's larger players, leaving cable companies in areas where Google Fiber currently exists or will exist soon scrambling to bump up speeds for their own customers.

    This is the only good thing Google has ever done.
  • Reply 6 of 84
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member


    network neutrality never meant you can do anything you want


    it just means ISP's can't block or throttle content from competitors

  • Reply 7 of 84
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member


    Can't wait to see how many people chime in to say they'll avoid Starbucks now. Go on, then. Let's hear it.


     


    Is the Kool-Aid better than coffee? ;-)

  • Reply 8 of 84
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post



    amazing how google has changed their position now they have to put their money where their mouth is...


    The thing now is can Google make any money being an ISP.  That's where the rubber meets the road.

  • Reply 9 of 84
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by allenbf View Post


    Can't wait to see how many people chime in to say they'll avoid Starbucks now. Go on, then. Let's hear it.


     


    Is the Kool-Aid better than coffee? ;-)



    I don't go to Starbucks as much as I used to since I'm not a coffee achiever and since I got my Breville tea maker, I make better tea at home and i make it the way I want to and have a LOT more choices.  So it doesn't really matter to me.

  • Reply 10 of 84
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member


    As long as it's FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, i don't care.  I don't want to give Google a dime of my money.  They don't deserve it.

  • Reply 11 of 84
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member


    Failbucks.  Google certainly doesn't need to know when I stop for coffee, nor who I interact with when I do.  Which I suspect is what this is all about: Data mining Starbucks users for ad tracking purposes, then shoveling that data wholesale to the NSA as fast as they can.


     


    More and more, I find I'm leaving WiFi off and sticking to LTE (which oftentimes is faster than WiFi anyway).

  • Reply 12 of 84
    I really do not want Google to know when I used Passbook to pay for my teas at Starbucks. Also, does this mean I will be served ads by Google whenever I am in or near a Starbucks that has designated a favorite?
  • Reply 13 of 84
    Since Snowden outed NSA for spying on all US, Google admitted they scan the content of all communications using their network components and cache web pages. Now, if not already done by ATT, every communication using Starbucks will be processed and tracked.

    Enjoy you're no privacy.
  • Reply 14 of 84
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    That's really all AI really had to say and they're absolutely correct. It's a standard policy for every ISP that I can think of. It's hardly an issue of "net neutrality".



    Google has a discussion thread here where they explain it to their service users more clearly:

    http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/fiber/-ixejP9yHj4


    I was seriously confused by the net neutrality claims. Every ISP I have been with disallowed customers from using their bandwidth for serving data (e.g. web server).

  • Reply 15 of 84
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,170member
    I really do not want Google to know when I used Passbook to pay for my teas at Starbucks. Also, does this mean I will be served ads by Google whenever I am in or near a Starbucks that has designated a favorite?

    ATT already did that, monetizing your data and location even if Google wasn't.
    http://adworks.att.com/

    Ads aren't evil. Many of us just don't care for them despite the fact we appreciate the valuable and free services we get that the advertisers pay for in our stead.
  • Reply 16 of 84
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    drblank wrote: »
    The thing now is can Google make any money being an ISP.  That's where the rubber meets the road.

    Of course they can. Whether they charge Starbucks for the service or not, they'll be harvesting boatloads of information they can sell to advertisers.
  • Reply 17 of 84
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,170member
    jragosta wrote: »
    Of course they can. Whether they charge Starbucks for the service or not, they'll be harvesting boatloads of information they can sell to advertisers.

    It's a shame you've never been able to understand they don't sell your data to advertisers. I don't think most people would have such a hard time with the concept. They instead sell their knowledge, placing the ads for the companies based on what Google thinks you'd be interested in. They're not always right by a long shot.

    If they sold the data they wouldn't be needed any longer. :\
  • Reply 18 of 84


    'Be evil.'

  • Reply 19 of 84
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    ATT already did that, monetizing your data and location even if Google wasn't.

    http://adworks.att.com/



    Ads aren't evil. Many of us just don't care for them despite the fact we appreciate the valuable and free services we get that the advertisers pay for in our stead.


     


    Very few people in this forum or other forums would complain about Google & ads if Google and Apple weren't competitors. Few complained about Google's ads prior to Android.  But people feel they need to justify their position (on both sides) by painting the competition as evil. 


     


    It's pretty much high school, you're either at the nerd table or the cool kid table.

  • Reply 20 of 84
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,642member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post


    I was seriously confused by the net neutrality claims. Every ISP I have been with disallowed customers from using their bandwidth for serving data (e.g. web server).



    Comcast provides web server usage when purchasing their business internet package. Of course, they also include Google AdWords credit on most of their hosted servers. I read their business acceptable use rules, http://www.comcast.com/corporate/customers/policies/highspeedinternetaup.html, and it didn't have the sentence about hosting a server outside your premises network like the non-business rules state. Of course, it might be buried somewhere or you have to use one of their servers.


     


    Even so, everyone knows Google will be harvesting data from the connection and that's all that matters.

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