Washington: Online search giant Google, known for promoting free web-based alternatives to costly software products, has been charged with using 21 times more bandwidth than what it pays for, thus making the internet costlier for others and costing taxpayers about $7 billion a year.
On its part, Google has challenged the study labelling charges against it, saying that the report has been authored by someone being paid by phone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner to be a full time Google critic.
The study, by Scott Cleland of the Precurser Group, a research and consulting firm specialising in the converging telecom sector, claimed that Google was by far the largest user of Internet bandwidth in the US and its bandwidth usage, which was rising rapidly, was greater than its payment for its cost.
The study estimated that Google has used 16.5% of all US consumer internet traffic this year and it is estimated to grow to 25% in 2009 and 37% in 2010.
However, the company’s payment to fund the US consumer broadband internet segment is estimated at $344 million for 2008, which is just 0.8% of the US consumer’s flat-rate monthly internet access costs of $44 billion.
“Thus, Google’s 16.5% share of all 2008 US consumer bandwidth usage is about 21 times greater than Google’s 0.8% share of US consumer bandwidth costs — on an implicit about $6.9 billion subsidy of Google by US consumers,” Cleland wrote in the study.
Cleland said that the findings of the study were important in the wake of Google being the driving force behind InternetForEveryone.org, which is pushing to adopt a national plan to bring open, high-speed internet connections into every home, at a price all of us can afford.