Google To FCC: ISPs Provide No Separate Service To Edge

Says FCC Can't Classify 'Imagined Service Under Title II

Google has told the FCC that ISPs provide no separate service to edge providers that the FCC could classify under Title II.

Under the FCC's proposed new network neutrality rules, it intends to reach possible interconnection-related problems using a general conduct standard under Sec. 706 authority, but it also posits that there are two separate services, one access service provided by ISPs to their customers and another to edge providers like Google and Netflix via interconnections.

"[I]f a court finds that it is necessary to classify the service that broadband providers make available to 'edge providers,' it, too, is a Title II telecommunications service," the FCC said in a fact sheet outlining the draft of the new order, which is to be voted Feb. 26.

But in phone calls to top FCC staffers Feb. 19, Google execs said that there is no separate service ISPs make available to the edge providers.

Google conceded that some content providers and network operators have interconnection relationships, but says most of those are informal agreements, with 99.5% completed on a "handshake" and for free (the paid peering relationships -- Comcast and Netflix being a prime example -- are the ones that have prompted the FCC to look at interconnection in the context of net neutrality). But it says whatever the interconnection deal, it is the ISP agreement with end users that controls the speed and other terms.

"[T]he Commission should not classify ISPs’ delivery of edge providers’ content, applications, and services as a service distinct from end user Internet access," the Google execs said. "If the Commission nevertheless does so, at minimum it should make clear that it is doing no more than restating a disputed finding of the D.C. Circuit, and take this step in a contingent fashion that will expire of its own force if that classification ultimately is not essential to sustain net neutrality rules."

Google says it need not classify the interconnection relationship under Title II to be able to address interconnection issues. "Should the Commission classify end-user broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service subject to Title II, that classification alone would enable the Commission to ensure that ISPs’ interconnection practices are just and reasonable," Google said.