Major New Google Fiber Expansion Shines Massive Spotlight On Lack Of Broadband Competition

from the sign-me-up dept

While Google Fiber will never likely see a full-fledged national deployment, we’ve noted repeatedly how the effort is worth its weight in gold for the way it draws attention to the lack of competition in the broadband marketplace and elevates what can often be an immensely inane conversation about telecom policy. While incumbent giant ISPs have feebly tried to argue that consumers don’t really want faster, cheaper speeds, the thousands of cities screaming for better broadband burns a hole right through all-too-common flimsy defenses of the status quo.

This week Google Fiber announced a major new expansion effort that’s sure to shine an even brighter spotlight on the nations stumbling, bumbling broadband duopoly. According to a Google blog post, the company has chosen Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta as the next cities in line for the Google Fiber’s symmetrical 1 Gbps broadband offerings. What’s more, Google says that Portland, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Jose will be getting Google Fiber at a later date.

As with previous Google Fiber launch markets of Austin, Kansas City and Provo, users have the choice of a 1 Gbps symmetrical line for $70, a 1 Gbps symmetrical line and TV service for $120, or a 5 Mbps offering that’s free after you pay a $300 installation fee (either all at once or in installments). That’s compared to the 100 to 300 Mbps top speeds offered by many ISPs for around four to five times the price. That’s if you’re lucky — recent FCC data suggests that three quarters of the U.S. can’t get anything more than 25 Mbps from just one ISP.

That said, it’s a shame Google Fiber didn’t stick to the company’s original promise to run Google Fiber as an open access (other ISPs can come in and compete on top of Google’s offerings). And while promising, these deployments are slow going and highly selective; Google Fiber is five years old and only has an estimated few thousand actual customers in Provo, Austin and Kansas City. Still, Google knows the effort not only shines a bright light on broadband competition issues, it’s helping to expose the lame protectionist laws ISP lawyers have written to help keep their cozy little fiefdoms protected from the winds of change.

Google Fiber’s launch target areas in North Carolina, for example, fall under a state protectionist bill lobbied for by Time Warner Cable, AT&T and CenturyLink that was passed in 2011 after three previous failed attempts. That bill hinders towns and cities from being able to make their own choices on broadband deployment, and while it could have been vetoed by then North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue, she chose not to put up a fight. For good measure those ISPs also passed a bill lowering the definition of broadband in the hopes of obfuscating market failure. These companies have made every effort to ensure states like North Carolina remain broadband backwaters. Google Fiber now setting up three locations in their backyards is well deserved.

While Google Fiber isn’t going to magically cure the nation’s lack of broadband options, it continues to not only elevate the policy conversation about broadband, it’s inspiring many communities to demand something better. Another bit of good news? Google is about to try the same thing with wireless.

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Comments on “Major New Google Fiber Expansion Shines Massive Spotlight On Lack Of Broadband Competition”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Fargo/Moorhead area would welcome Google.

Cant wait till Google makes it up here in the Fargo / Moorhead area. The local ISP’s have failed miserably.

Pay for 11mbps, get 1/2 mbps and then get told “well technically, you purchased ‘up to’ 11mbps so 1/2 mbps is what your paying for”. What a scam. We have 1 ISP in our area and they were caught redirecting google and opendns dns requests to their own servers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Fargo/Moorhead area would welcome Google.

I would guess that cable and DSL (and any other wired-broadband) service is not available in the vast majority of North and South Dakota areas, and probably won’t ever be. And to make matters worse, dialup internet in most rural areas tends to be much slower (& w/more dropouts) than ‘normal’ dialup.

jimb (profile) says:

take my money Google, please!~

Because I live right here, I could just go over to Google HQ and throw the money in the front door… unfortunately, my choices are Comcast (need I say more) or even slower, maybe slightly better service AT&T. No monopoly there, eh? For $60 a month I get ‘up to’ 12Mbps downstream DSL. Google can’t come to San Jose fast enough for me!

Anonymous Coward says:

With such stiff opposition from the for-profit corporate monopolies, it’s a wonder that the city of Wilson (outside Raleigh) was able to put together a municipal broadband operation that puts the commercial cable companies to shame. Greenlight Community Broadband offers one gigabit *symmetrical* service for a hundred bucks/month (as well as lower priced *symmetrical* tiers). This is what can happen when people band together to escape the claws of the predatory cable industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Every good communist knows a monopoly is so much more efficient at resource utilization, with its People’s Commissars and Five-Year-Plans-For-Increased-Fiberglass-Production and Re-education Plans for Recalcitrant Legislaturists and tender regard for All-The-Little-People-Oppressed-By-Capitalists.

But all this is dangerously non-communistic: people getting together to invest based on their own needs and goals, not according to the Commissar’s edicts. Scary: how can the leaders properly lead, if the people have access to Non-Approved Channels of Thought?

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

Yeah… can we stop using the word “communist” to mean “authoritarian douchebag?” Thank you.

Ditto socialism.

Those words are American for bogeyman and I’m sick of the ignorance. For the record, I think that actual communists and socialists are misguided but they’re not an actual threat.

Corporate authoritarian oligarchs, however, are another story.

joncr (profile) says:

I’m in one of the targeted Carolina cities, currently paying Time-Warner $75 per month for something around 20MMbps. No cable TV in that fee, just the net. (I cancelled cable three years ago and within a few months they’d boosted the cost of net-only to more than what I’d been paying for TV and net.)

If/when Google runs fiber to my street, I’m in. I think I’ll mail TW’s modem back to them so I don’t have to join the queue at the store.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder if their choice to back down from open access was to not give the big legacy broadband use of their lines to jump in and say “Hey us too!” without putting any money into it.
It’s would be great for the smaller players but the big players would abuse it LIKE THEY ABUSE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE.

But hey, all these blackmail threats of not expanding fiber because of the Title II looming over them took a big hit with this announcement. Looks like it IS possible to expand.

ECA (profile) says:


“recent FCC data suggests that three quarters of the U.S. can’t get anything more than 25 Mbps from just one ISP. “

Number based on Major metro areas..
What I find funny, is the Smaller towns along freeways are serviced by smaller corps(not that small) and are getting BETTER service then in some cities..

There is also another strange fact, is the numbers that they use are based on ALL types of internet..from your phone/sat/cable/phone company…
but no one says anything about the Backbone. and WHO owns that.
Also that the USA gov. already Paid the Phone companies to HELP install better fiber..

Its all a deck of cards, and they keep being shuffled around, WHO owns Whom..

Tom says:

Rural communities are a neglected backwater ...

I live about 25 miles (a 30 minute drive) from the central Louisville, KY. We have no cable provider willing to service our rural residence. AT&T copper lines are the only option, and KY state law and utility commission have ceded monopoly control to them. There is no competition. That results in sub-par performance being the accepted norm.

I pay $40/mo for “up to” 1.5Mb/256Kb access, with 100 ms latency, on my DSL line. No matter who my ISP provider is, they route through AT&T switches, copper and provisioning. I am even required by KY law to maintain an AT&T land line to defray AT&T’s expenses in order to get DSL service.

The idea of reliably streaming a YouTube video is just dream. I can pay more but the equipment is incapable of providing better performance except intermittently. After 7 years of trying I have yet to achieve “broadband access” as currently defined. Getting 4Mb/S down would be mind blowing. If I want 10Mb/S access I can just move closer to town. Right?

Google Fiber is an essential proof-of-concept that may someday bring real competition and service to all the rest of the non-metro USA. It undercuts the claims made by the incumbents that they are “doing their best efforts!” Go Google!

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