That didn't take long. Google's move into the fiber business has already irritated the incumbents (Time Warner Cable and AT&T). Faced with a faster, cheaper rival, the two companies (at this point, mainly Time Warner) are complaining that the incentives provided to Google are "unfair."
In order to create the infrastructure for the cable and gigabit internet service, Google was given everything from free fiber, government employees, buildings, and discounted services; an agreement that a Time Warner Cable spokesman feels puts them "at a competitive advantage compared with not just us but also the other competitors in the field."
Time Warner's spokesman seems to misunderstand what the word "incentive" means. When cities attempt to lure businesses they want
, they offer concessions, grants, tax breaks, etc. It's assumed that the incumbent businesses have grabbed substantial marketshare and, therefore, don't need to be given incentives to do anything more than stay
. If Time Warner is upset that its new competition was given this in exchange for selecting Kansas City, it can't blame anyone else for its failure to offer better services. It certainly was in the position to do so, but it never occurred to the incumbent(s) to make any great leaps in service and speed until it was "unfairly" forced to do so.
This complaining about being forced to offer a competitive service is nauseating enough. But this sentence tops it:
He continued by stating, "We're happy to compete with Google, but we'd just like an even playing field."
No, TWC. That is absolutely the last
thing you want. TWC has never been interested in "level playing fields" or "competition." In fact, it loathes competition (and innovation) so much that it's currently the target of an anti-trust investigation
for its attempts to neutralize Netflix and Hulu by obtaining programming at lower prices than online providers are charged (among other things).
Hell, TWC has a long and storied history of doing whatever possible to block a level playing field
even to the point of writing legislation
to keep out competitors.
Time Warner is only interested in a "level playing field" if it means that everyone else has to come down
to its level, rather than improving or innovating. In fact, TWC is so worried about Google's offerings actually leveling the playing field and providing real
competition that it's offering rewards to city employees for information on Google's fiber rollout
Time Warner has set up a phone hotline and an email address that will award three gift cards a week for employees that "[share] tips, rumors, and rumblings about Google Construction or launch activity..."
Still, TWC wants its undeserved place on the "gravy train," and has reached a "parity agreement" with Kansas City, MO.
In exchange for the incentives, the cities are requesting that the companies improve their community services to be on par with Google's efforts, which have resulted in free internet connections in hundreds of locations chosen by the government... The WSJ cites an unnamed source that claims Time Warner Cable has improved its service's speed and performance in the area in return for discounts that mirror Google's, as well as a partial refund of city fees that the company paid earlier this year.
"Improved speed and performance," eh? One wonders (loudly and angrily) what the hell was keeping TWC from improving speed and performance over the last several years? Perhaps it was the lack of a serious competitor and one of those famous "level" playing fields that tilts at a 45-degree tilt toward the incumbent provider. As it stands now, Google's fastest offering (up to 1 Gbps) is 950 Mbps faster than TWC's fastest offering.
Google's entrance into the broadband market should be a wake-up call for providers all over the US. Once this service is available, they'll no longer be able to get away with minimal, incremental improvements and never ending price increases. As soon as consumers have a chance to switch, they will, especially when the old school clings to things like binding arbitration agreements
(a bad company's best friend) and metered broadband
, rather than meeting customer expectations or improving infrastructure.