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Bashing Google: for fun or for profit?


By: Scott Bradner


I do not know Scott Cleland but I've seen his blog postings from time to time.  I admit that I rarely read them, mostly because their titles tend to put me off, but I did read through his latest.  (  In this case I read it because of the title, which seemed, to say the least, improbable.  I can't say that I was all that impressed.  Among other failures, the other Scott seems to think that I do not want the Internet when I buy an Internet connection. 


Mr. Cleland 's web site ( is well titled: "the Precursor's Blog: Forward Thinking at the Nexus of Policy, Markets and Change."  But Mr. Cleland, at least on this site, seems to be a one and a half trick pony.  Most of his postings concern Google or network neutrality, both of which he is quite vehemently against.   I read through the posting titles in his archive and, if the titles are anything to go by, two thirds of the 250 or so postings in the archive (which goes back to March) concern Google and about a sixth concern network neutrality. 


It took me a while, but I did find some information linked off the web site that may hint as to why Mr. Cleland focuses on the topics he does.    If you click on the Disclaimer and Privacy Policy link hidden at the bottom of the page you are taken to the privacy statement for  Clicking on the About Us link on that page brings you to a page that says that their mission is to "create a forum to promote competitive Internet choices for consumers through an open, rigorous, and illuminating discussion and debate of 'net neutrality' legislation/regulation."   The page also has a list of the members of, which include all the major telephone and cable companies.  Scott Cleland is the chairman of the organization.  It looks like bashing Google is an occupation rather than an avocation for Mr. Cleland.


Regular readers of this column know that I have some real problems with some of what Google does -- mostly concerning their insistence that they know better that I do what is good for me and my privacy.  But I doubt that any of my readers think that I'm paid based on how much I criticize any of the targets of my columns.


The Cleland column that caught my eye is entitled "Google uses 21 times more bandwidth than it pays for -- per first-ever research study."  Google stealing the Internet capacity certainly would be a naughty thing to do but the referenced research study ( has some basic problems which makes the conclusion rather tenuous.


The study report, written by Mr. Cleland, tries to figure out how much bandwidth Google uses and how much it pays for that bandwidth.   The report notes that Google does not report how much bandwidth it buys or how much it pays ISPs for service but Cleland guesses at both based on other Google reports and guess on Internet traffic extrapolation from a Cisco report on types of traffic. 


What the report totally misses is that there is another end for the Google bandwidth usage the report talks about.  When Google crawls my web site, the source of transferred data is my web site.  When I do a Google search or watch a You Tube video my computer is the destination of the transferred data.  Apparently Mr. Cleland does not realize that I pay for my Internet connection since he does not factor that into the money being spent on "Google bandwidth." 


I pay for a connection to the Internet and, in doing so, I pay for the ability to connect to and transfer data to and from services such as Google.  So does everyone that buys an Internet connection, including Mr. Cleland.  If one were to honestly account for payments relating to the Google bandwidth one would have to include the percentage of my, and Mr. Cleland's Internet bill that goes to communicating with Google.  It takes two to tango, and, in this case, two pay the piper.


disclaimer:  Harvard has several student dance companies, and I expect that two can tango in at least some of them but they, nor the university, has expressed an opinion on Mr. Cleland's dancing skills so the above is mine.