More thoughts on the fragmenting Internet 4

This quote in a Light Reading article about Google’s network infrastructure plans encapsulates why I suspect we may be moving into a new, vertically-integrated phase of Internet development:

“Traditionally, people went to Internet peering points. But because Google is so large, it could be the Internet. People would go there and never leave.”

If Google is big enough to do that, so are Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL, eBay, and probably a few others. And I’m sure the network owners — Verizon, SBC, and Comcast in particular — would love nothing more than to “be the Internet” for their customers. Wireless operators already are, for the most part.

The threat of vertical integration from the bottom of the stack has been with us since the earliest days of the commercial Internet. Now, surprisingly, it may be coming from the top as well.

There’s nothing necessarily evil in what Google is doing. And they aren’t alone. I just can’t help thinking that we’re moving away from the common platform that defined the Internet for the past decade, and we haven’t really examined what that will mean.