The GOOG: Is Self Promotion a Bad Thing?

November 8, 2019

Why would Google not use its position to boost its own services? After all, it is not as though legislators can keep up enough to preempt its maneuvers. The Sydney Morning Herald reports, “Google Algorithm Hogs Internet Traffic, Researchers Say.” The article cites recent research detailing how Google can monopolize nearly half of networks’ capacity for its streaming services, putting other online services at a distinct disadvantage. Writer James Titcomb tells us:

“It puts a spotlight on Google’s role in managing internet traffic as the company is under increased scrutiny over its central role in much of the plumbing of the internet. Internet services use congestion control algorithms (CCAs) to efficiently share bandwidth when there is a potential bottleneck and ‘throttle’, or slow down, certain functions when capacity is stretched. For example, if several people are using a Wi-Fi network at an airport or coffee shop to stream videos, the algorithms will restrict the internet capacity available to each user, and reduce video quality. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and software company Nefell Networks found that Google’s algorithm, known as BBR, takes up 40 per cent of internet capacity even when multiple services are competing for traffic. In some instances, when the algorithm was active, other services would have less than 4 per cent of capacity; a tenth of that using Google’s algorithm.”

Google offers this algorithm as open source, though many other sites choose different CCAs. But even those that do adopt Google’s code are at a drastic disadvantage. The write-up says Google did not respond to a request for comment but reminds us the company is famous for amping up its speed wherever, and however, it can.

Cynthia Murrell, October 31, 2019

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