Google has already come out and said that new net neutrality laws won’t affect its rollout of Google Fiber. The company plans on adding Fiber to several new cities in the coming year, including Atlanta, Nashville, and Austin. Some experts believe that the FCC could go after Google for the way it rolls out Fiber to new neighborhoods. Google waits until enough new customers have signed up for the service, making sure that there is enough interest and enough potential subscribers to cover the cost of rollout. The FCC has historically scrutinized such practices, forcing companies to offer the same level of service to everyone. Harold Feld, the senior vice president at Public Knowledge policy group, said, “That is the traditional role the commission has played, in ensuring that all Americans have access to telecommunication services.”
The proposed FCC rules making broadband providers operate like public utilities brings with it a host of regulations. ISPs like Verizon, Comcast, and Google Fiber would come under direct FCC oversight. This would bring Verizon FiOS under scrutiny because they don’t offer the same level of service in every area. Comcast would also have to standardize its rate plans and service offerings across the county. Comcast currently offers different service packages, different speeds, and different prices in a seemingly arbitrary fashion across the country.
Some experts think that this wouldn’t affect Google or its Fiber offering very much. The company doesn’t make much, if any, profit on its gigabit internet services. Google also is no stranger to government interference and regulation. “They should probably be pretty well-versed in how to deal with regulatory agencies at this point,” said Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice. The FCC is voting February 26th on whether or not to enact the new broadband regulations. If they vote to regulate broadband providers, ISP will get their lawyers involved and appeal the vote. Even though we’ll get a vote at the end of this month, the process to enact these new rules is only just beginning. It will be a long, uphill battle to get the rules in place.