Arbor Networks, which offers deep packet inspection and other security technologies to more than 70 percent of the world's ISPs, has determined that Google contributes somewhere between 6 to 10 percent of all Internet traffic worldwide.
That's part of why Google is big enough to be an Internet service provider, one of those gatekeepers that sit between consumers and their digital lives. It is an awe-inspiring position, and one that Google may be well-heeled to hold, if only the data it delivered wasn't for itself.
Arbor's Craig Labovitz said in a blog post that if Google were an ISP, it would be the fastest growing and third largest global carrier.
Check out the ascendance of Google's Internet traffic from Google's servers from June 2007 and July 2009, according to Arbor Networks:
Obviously, most of that is from YouTube, the video-sharing site where users are now uploading 24 hours of video in 1 minute. A full day's worth of video in 1 minute? Staggering.
Again, Google is generating the Internet traffic from the millions of users using its applications, not delivering Internet service to those users.
In doing this, Google has also largely eschewed transit providers and built out its global data center and content distribution, and has "aggressively pursued direct interconnection with most consumer networks."
"So, after billions of dollars of data center construction, acquisitions, and creation of a global backbone to deliver content to consumer networks, what's next for Google?" Labovitz said. "Well, I'm hoping for delivery of content directly to the consumer via a nice, fat 1 Gbps FTTH pipe. Google, please choose Ann Arbor."
That is exactly what Google is working on in its pledge to build speedy broadband networks to 50,000 to 500,000 users in select U.S. cities, whose leaders are literally swimming with sharks, jumping into freezing lakes and slinging mud at each other in the process.
The logical answer to the question in the title of this piece is that Google shouldn't be your ISP because it collects a lot of data on users.
Imagine getting served Internet by the same company that tracks your computers while you search and that tracks your Web activity from cookies in your Web browser. That activity spans every conceivable Web application, or at least those consumers most use.
If you're comfortable with that, then Google should be your ISP. Labovitz clearly is; even as he offers research painting Google as a controlling, monolithic entity for it massive build-out in Web infrastructure, he is begging for Google broadband.
That is the magic of Google. Make users an offer they can't refuse and suck them in because no one can do better. Then, because Google is a cloud-based solution, the company holds the data users generate by YouTube, search, Chrome and, perhaps soon, ISP traffic.
People are not locked in, but why go anywhere else just because the company is largely unpopular with privacy hounds trying to make names for themselves or just being flies in the ointment for this digital decade?
Does that make Google a hungry enough beast? Are you comfortable with that? Google hopes you will be.
Google broadband will be cheaper, better and, if the FCC and others support it, the gatekeeper for this digital decade. It's Google's world, and we're just living in it.