Google Fiber Expanding Faster, Further — And Making Comcast Very Nervous

from the blow-up-the-status-quo dept

While Google Fiber was originally seen as an adorable little experiment primarily designed to bring PR attention to a lack of broadband competition, over the last six months Wall Street has woken up to the fact that Google Fiber isn’t playing around. While the number of customers that can actually sign up for Google Fiber remains in the several hundred thousand range, Google’s announcements to tackle sprawling areas like Atlanta, San Antonio, Chicago, and Los Angeles has many Wall Street analysts changing their tune.

In 2012 or so, Wall Street analysts proclaimed it would just be too expensive to deploy Google Fiber at any scale. Fast forward to 2016, and you’ll notice that a very different tune is being sung:

Although Google?s announcement is just that, could lead to nothing, and requires minimum capital commitment by Alphabet at this stage, it increases on the margin the likelihood that Google Fiber will pass a large number of locations within five years. Correspondingly, it increases the chances that we will see Alphabet?s capex in the non-core businesses, or what the company has referred to as ?Other Bets,? increase significantly. Indeed, if Google Fiber were to build out in Chicago and/or Los Angeles and their surroundings, it could precipitate increased interest from other major metro areas, making it easier for Fiber to scale up. Our high end estimate of 20-25 million homes passed by Google Fiber may prove less aggressive than we thought.

Google Fiber has learned some hard lessons in trying to build a broadband network from scratch, so it has started leaning more heavily on existing builds (or plans to build). This week for example Google Fiber announced in a blog post it would be riding on a planned open access municipal broadband network being built by the city of Huntsville, Alabama. This comes on the heels of the company’s announcement it’s also riding on existing apartment fiber builds in Atlanta to speed up availability there:

To date, we?ve built the majority of our Google Fiber networks from scratch. But over the past five years, we?ve repeatedly seen that every city is unique. So in order to bring Fiber to more people, we?ve taken different approaches in different places. In Provo, Utah, our Google Fiber service is being delivered over a network we purchased from the city. In Atlanta, Georgia, we?re both constructing our own network, and using existing fiber to provide Google Fiber to some apartment buildings. And now, due to the leadership of the Mayor and Huntsville Utilities CEO Jay Stowe, we?ll be working with a muni-owned network to bring our high speed service to Huntsville.

There’s every indication that Huntsville’s network will be open to any other ISP competitors, an idea Google Fiber originally trumpeted then backed off from. So, yes, while Google Fiber still has a small footprint now as it labors to dig fiber trenches (Austin, Kansas City, Provo), the sheer number of builds in progress or close to finalization is starting to become mammoth (Louisville, Salt Lake City, Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Charlotte, Nashville…). In other words, by 2020 or so things should start to look notably different:

Broadband ISPs, much like Wall Street, generally thought Google Fiber would never be big enough to seriously impact their bottom line. But as Google Fiber pushes into Comcast territories like Atlanta, flyers being handed out by the cable giant make it abundantly clear it’s getting nervous about having to face real competition:
Unfortunately for Comcast, Atlanta is one of the many markets where Comcast is engaged in usage cap and overage fee “trials,” which oddly is omitted in the company’s attempt to deflate Google Fiber “hype.” Most of Comcast’s flyer claims are either misleading (WiFi is as fast as the router you buy) or just not very interesting (wow, video on demand?). Few if any of Comcast’s claimed advantages are going to be much help against a patient company actually willing to compete on price.

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Companies: comcast, google

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Comments on “Google Fiber Expanding Faster, Further — And Making Comcast Very Nervous”

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Ninja (profile) says:


Worst customer service in america?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Caps that are incompatible with the speed?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Sneaky fees and overpriced services?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Generally obnoxious behavior against consumers?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Giant middle finger at the citizens by effectively buying laws that benefit themselves?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Litigious behavior when faced with competition?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

Worst company in America for years?
[X] xfinity [ ]Google Fiber

I could go on.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Free TV?

On the flyer in bold it says: “9X more FREE TV shows and movies On Demand”.

On the flyer in the fine print it says: “TV: On Demand selections subject to charge indicated at time of purchase.”

So which one is it? And by capitalising the O and D in “On Demand” makes it sound like a name, so I am surprised there is no TM next to it!

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Free TV?

No, the sentence can be restructured as follows in a couple different ways:

1) 9X more ((FREE TV shows) and (movies On Demand)). or
2) (9X more Free TV shows) and (movies on demand).

But in neither case is it:
9X more free (TV shows and movies on demand).

They want people to read it and believe it is the latter, but that is not the meaning.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Wi-Fi is as fast as the router you buy”

This article is clearly written by a Google sympathizer. We said it’s the fastest in-home Wi-Fi. As a forward-thinking company we realize that once this whole “cloud” fad dies down people are going to want to be able to transfer files and stream videos over their home network and we provide the best Wi-Fi for that purpose. After all, once we start cracking down on data usage the in-home network segment will be far more important than your Internet connection if you want to maximize the Comcastic Value (TM) of your services!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes because no matter how fast your in-home speed is once you leave the house and have to deal with the “high speed” (not anywhere as fast as advertised) network. So it costs the company nothing to lease a fast router as opposed to actually improving their peering connections or network speeds.

What a joke comcast is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes because no matter how fast your in-home speed is once you leave the house and have to deal with the “high speed” (not anywhere as fast as advertised) network your connection speed will slow down. So it costs the company nothing to lease a fast router as opposed to actually improving their peering connections or network speeds.

No different than putting in the fastest processor possible into a computer but then purposely only putting in a few megs of ram. Sure you can crunch numbers fast but good luck on the retrieving of new info from the hard drive.

What a joke comcast is.

jim says:


Love google fiber. Just wish they would pick up more channels that i would like. Come on amc, please. Or let us have online access to it. Good solid picture, but all i have are on 1080p, had rr before, and only one set would ren high def, the others would have to be downgraded, i’m at the end of a line, in a poor neighborhood, and had latency problems, no more. Now a bad day means, shut off my printer, eats signal strength.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't fall for the hype, indeed

While it’s laughable as a selling point, home wifi speed is actually relevant. If you’re using an old wireless G or early wireless N router, odds are pretty good you’ll get fairly crappy speeds no matter how fast you’re internet is supposed to be.

I say this as someone who recently needed to update their home network with a modern wireless AP, and turn off the ancient, crappy wireless on the ISP provided router.

Still, it’s fairly ridiculous as a selling point seeing as it’s fairly trivial to upgrade the wifi, and you very rapidly hit speeds where further speed on the wifi is irrelevant given the poor speed of the internet connection.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: Don't fall for the hype, indeed

But it’s the “fastest Wifi” that made me laugh the loudest.

It made you laugh, it made me ask when the FTC is going to get their act together and sue Comcast for deceptive advertising.

I doubt it will actually happen though, they’ve been able to get away with their claims of “Up To” speeds so far.

DavidMxx (profile) says:

Fiber is good for your health

I remember just a few years ago when there were people actually moving to be in Verizon’s fios deployment. Of course, in relatively short order, Verizon abandoned that buildout for most of the nation.

Here’s hoping that Google will eventually cover the majority of the population and (finally) bring true competition to wired internet access.

As an aside, I wonder how long it will take for Google to get into the wireless access arena?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s disingenuous to say that Austin has Google Fiber. Their roll out has covered a teensy tiny part of the city to date. Speaking as an Austin resident, in a central part of the city, who has been waiting for Google Fiber for years now … it’s available in VERY VERY few neighborhoods. Still seems like vaporware to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

The major telcoms screwing over customers, lack of decent customer service, and general arrogance would be enough were Google to come to town, to ensure I would swap just to teach the present telcos a lesson by hitting them in the wallet.

Comcast is especially known for it’s lack of care in the customer service department. It has earned much of the disdain that its customers have reserved for it. Every thing from troubles in terminating service to extra charges in the bill.

Comcast is scared be it is going to reap what it has sown.

Indy says:

At Google's current pace

They’ll have 200 THOUSAND customers by 2022!

They’ll have 400,000 (OMG) customers by 2032!

Let’s not ignore that there are people still using dial-up, comcast, Centurylink, small ISPs, nor that 5G wireless is coming, and that Comcast is planning 2 Gbps service in select markets.

Google will not enter a market where it will lose money, and there are zero guarantees that just because they offer a service, people will eat it up.

What am I positive about? Increased competition. What do I find ridiculous? Google’s growth in markets is piddly so far, and over a long time, very unimpressive. And the press eating it up is just silly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why do cable companies screw existing customers? Because they can

I just cancelled my cable and turned the box in, but kept internet from the same company. While doing so I was informed that if I brought in my “old” modem that wasn’t receiving the full speed, that I was paying $12.00 a month for, they would give me a new high speed modem for $5.00 a month, both lowering my bill and increasing my speed.

I asked how long my “old” modem had been obsolete and was told 14 months. At NO time while paying more than double the current rate was I ever informed that I could receive increased performance and lower cost by upgrading my existing hardware.

If I had any other option for high speed internet, I would have switched that as well, but the only options are cable, DSL (which is 20 times slower than cable), or wireless (which is 5 times more expensive than cable).

Sandra Brown (user link) says:

Re: please come to Fl

Over 6,000,000 Seniors living in Fl. They are either going without tv, Internet & land lines because they can’t afford the rising prices they face every time they turn around. These cable companies won’t work with anyone. $$$$$$ are the only thing they care about. They have a captive audience. Also you can’t get a straight forward answer, if you are not tech savvy your lost. WE NEED HELP. Thank you

Glenn says:

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Why, if they decided to build Rome today, I’m sure it would be impossibly expensive and take forever if it could be done at all (which is why you don’t look at it like it’s simply a business opportunity).

Yeah, I’m sure Google Fiber will go FARTHER and FARTHER (distance-wise, that is) as they encroach further into Comcast’s business model. Competition–ain’t it a bitch.

Brad Slack says:

Try the New Google Cell Phone Service

Goodby AT&T! 21 YEAR long customer just flipped over to Google Cell Phone Service (Fi). LOVE it. The service is just as good – pure Android phone from the Google factory – First in line for software updates. And the price?? $20 a month unlimited and $10 a GIG (prorated – only use half? $5).

UNBELIEVEABLE. I was paying $180 for AT&T and the thanks I got was a rate increase and a demand for $35 a month for a new phone.

Thang Thai says:

even if google is half the speed and twice the price, i'll still go with google

my area have just comcast, so when I called them about anything, I just got told to cancel my service and use another provider if i am not happy with Comcast straight out (knowing there is only comcast). So yeah, even if google fiber is only 10 megabit, i’ll still take it over whatever sweet deal comcast throw at me (even if it is 10 bucks for infinite download/upload speed) because I am fed up and also know too well that good deal only last for as long as the competition is still here, so i will support the competition

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