Cox Sues Tempe, Arizona For Its Nefarious Plan To Bring Google Fiber To Town

from the pouting-and-crying dept

Google Fiber continues to expand and bring much needed competitive pressure to (and public conversation about) duopoly-logjammed broadband markets. Most recently the company stated it was striking preliminary agreements with San Diego, Irvine, and Louisville, negotiating "fiber hut" placement, coordinating install logistics, and getting cities to sign off on franchise deals. The company also recently announced that it had struck a preliminary deal with Tempe, Arizona, laying the groundwork for the deployment of thousands of miles of new fiber in the city, bringing Google Fiber's potential footprint to sixteen cities.

Like any good incumbent broadband ISP, Cox Communications' first reaction wasn't to welcome the challenge of a new competitor, it was to whine like a petulant child about the fairness of it all:
"It's unfortunate that the Tempe City Council is willing to favor a new entrant into the market, and in doing so appears to have violated federal and state law. The waivers granted by the City also give Google Fiber a free pass on obligations that affect public safety; such as emergency alert messaging and protection of subscriber privacy."
Cox has subsequently followed up this early whining with a new lawsuit accusing the Tempe city council of violating the law. According to the suit (pdf), Tempe violated federal law "by establishing a discriminatory regulatory framework" that gives Google Fiber preference over traditional cable companies:
"Tempe’s bald assertion that Google Fiber is not a cable operator is incorrect," Cox argued. "And based on this incorrect assertion, Tempe’s regulatory scheme allows Google Fiber to provide video programming service to subscribers in Tempe under terms and conditions that are far more favorable and far less burdensome than those applicable to Cox and other cable operators, even though Cox and Google Fiber offer video services that are legally indistinguishable."
Here's the thing though: reports out of Arizona indicate that the Tempe city council's vote opened the door for companies like Cox to negotiate their own, new agreements with the city. Indeed, nothing stopped incumbent ISPs from striking new gigabit fiber deployment deals before Google Fiber, they just lacked the competitive incentive to do so. And while some mega-ISPs originally whined about these deals, they quickly quiet down once they realize these new potential deals let them cherry pick broadband deployment (read: just wire high-end developments), something that pre-Google Fiber days used to be considered a bad thing. Note these recent comments by AT&T:
"In the past if we wanted to go into a city environment, the requirement was you build out the entire city," Stephenson explained in a keynote at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. Doing that requires a huge capital investment, one that AT&T felt it couldn't make, he noted. Google's entry into Austin, in particular, enabled AT&T to ask the city for the same terms as Google Fiber received. "Google came in and was very targeted in where they wanted to deploy fiber, and they got municipal endorsement (on that). …We said we'll take the same deal that Google got. And we got the same deal that Google got," Stephenson said."
So yes, under the din of enthusiasm over Google Fiber there is a conversation nobody seems to want to have about the problem of cherry-picked next-gen broadband deployment, but that's obviously not what Cox cares about. Cox sees something in local Tempe law that will allow it to bog Google Fiber's progress in Tempe down in the courts (Google Fiber is also slated for Cox's turf in Phoenix, where it has not filed suit). Cox could simply take Google Fiber's market entry as a challenge to negotiate a new citywide deal and up its own game, but apparently the cable operator thinks that hand-wringing and wasting everybody's time with lawyers is the more sensible tactical option.

Filed Under: arizona, broadband, competition, fiber, google fiber, lawsuits, tempe
Companies: cox, google


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:42am

    Amusingly, even the sluggish speed Google Fiber is being implemented seems awesome if compared to the big telcos. Because at least it is improvement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 8:52am

    Cox has only advertised 1gig speeds

    The extant of Cox's fiber rollout is limited to advertising only. We see the commercials but I've yet to find out where it is being offered. We also have century link and their Prism TV. I don't know where that is being offered either. The only locations that can use these kick-ass services are the households in the ads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 10:19am

      Re: Cox has only advertised 1gig speeds

      There's an endless number of ISPs doing this now. Wire a few high-end developments, then market the hell out of "gigabit" speeds even though a few hundred or thousand (out of millions) of your customers can actually even get it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 12:34pm

      Re: Cox has only advertised 1gig speeds

      I know there are places in Chandler and Scottsdale with Prism but don't know anyone with it. I wouldn't use CenturyLink if it was the last ISP on the planet, I'd rather use smoke signals. They are beyond incompetent.
      I have also seen the Cox commercials and also have no idea where it's available. I just went to their site and initiated a Chat support session and asked if they have Gig service at my house. Surprise, they don't! Awesome they're spending ad money on something I can't purchase.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        wallyb132 (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 5:43pm

        Re: Re: Cox has only advertised 1gig speeds

        i live all the way out in gold canyon and centurylink prism tv is available here at my house, right now. you may think centurylink is incompetent, which at times they may be, who am i to judge, but i will take their incompetence over cox's willful disdain of customer service and other bullshit all day long.

        centurylink has difficulties getting service established, but once you weather the storm that is the installation process, their service is rock solid, i have and / or manage accounts at multiple locations throughout the valley all using centurylink and they all run solid day after day without problems.

        cox on the other hand, i spend more time on the phone with their customer service than i do with any other isp, and i have 4x more clients using centurylink than i do cox, cox are a bunch of cocks...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:21am

    legal standing

    How can this possibly have any legal footing to stand on? Any business has the right to expand into other cities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:26am

    since when has a US company ever done anything other than what benefits itself? they get to do whatever they like because of the 'donations' made to members of Congress who dont give a flyin' fuck about the people they represent! from the time they get into office, the only thing considered is how much money can be put into personal bank accounts out of US jurisdiction!! hence the complete lack of competition in just about any industry you can think of and the total, in this instance, shit broadband service in the whole of the country!!
    businesses and politicians should be ashamed at what they've done and be held to account!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:34am

    Google Fiber TOTAL is just sixth tenths of the subscribers Comcast LOST last month!

    That it's expanding is flat out lie.

    The company also recently announced that it had struck a preliminary deal with Tempe, Arizona, laying the groundwork for the deployment of thousands of miles of new fiber in the city, bringing Google Fiber's potential footprint to sixteen cities.


    That's the most slanted sentence EVER! Full of hedging but still implying work is actually being DONE! Just TOO typically Techdirt! I'm starting 300 mph rail service to 92 "potential" cities. Want in on the ground floor?

    From this one would think Google is digging right now, but it's not. POTENTIAL.

    Techdirt doesn't complain that Google Fiber cherry-picked locations for only partial builds. That's not the utility model that YOU the public needs, it's the elitist model. YOU are not served by Google Fiber, now are you?

    Then goes into the usual Techdirt attack on other-than-Google cable companies, but if facts are as stated, then Tempe's special deal here is just the kind that should be stopped.

    By the way, Google was able to buy Provo's existing network at far below cost on promise of big investment, which has not occurred.

    Google is at most ONE IN TWO THOUSAND cable subscribers. It's not big, it's just demonstration.

    The companies that have actually built serve tens of millions each, and Techdirt highlights the few problems.

    And what corporation "sponsors" Masnick / Techdirt? Take the Copia link to see why yet another puff piece on Google Fiber just for potential not actual. They must get paid per fluff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:37am

      Re: Google Fiber TOTAL is just sixth tenths of the subscribers Comcast LOST last month!

      oh look a day that ends in y and a day that Blue continues his fatwa against Google. Do please show us on the doll where Google touched you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:45am

      Re: Google Fiber TOTAL is just sixth tenths of the subscribers Comcast LOST last month!

      I like the demo so far. and I like how just the thought of google's offerings piss you off.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 10:23am

      Re: Google Fiber TOTAL is just sixth tenths of the subscribers Comcast LOST last month!

      Why hasn't Cox or any ISP reinvested into their own network to introduce 1gig before google anounces they are rolling in? It should be easier, they already have the infrastructure laid down. A series of outages could certainly be justified if progress is shown. Who deserves more scrutiny, the company that tries to enter into competition or the one that resists upgrade until a competitor rolls in?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:38am

    Privacy exemption?

    Does anyone have details on what privacy obligations Google got out of?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 9:52am

    Why is Google becoming a cable operator?

    Google may be making things more difficult by offering cable TV service. Why are they bothering anyway? They could offer an IP-based TV service to people regardless of ISP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 10:10am

    Of course they are. They want me to keep paying $175 a month for their cable and 50 meg internet. We have no good alternatives currently to Cox cable in the Phoenix metro area for internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 10:46am

    I don't get it how can a company claim sovereignty over cable and isp in any area in the US this makes zero sense , actually sounds like a corporate take over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 11:14am

    Just a note, having lived in Tempe for five year: you note that Google Fiber is also coming to Phoenix. Well, Tempe and Phoenix are almost one big city. The downtown Phoenix core is quite small. The two are right next to each other.

    That whole area is one big clusterfuck of a giant sprawl. Glendale, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, etc., etc. The thing keeps spreading out like one big cancerous cell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 11:32am

    SandyNet

    SandyNet is a muni-fiber network funded by bonds sold by the city. They have 100mbps connections for about $40/month.

    If I could get that in my town, it would be bye-bye Cocks (I mean Cox.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 12:39pm

    Cherry-picking advancement will be a big stumbling block for all broadband development, no matter who is doing it.

    Google Fiber at least actually gives what people pay for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 22 Sep 2015 @ 2:17pm

    Being honest

    "It's unfortunate that the Tempe City Council is willing to favor a new entrant into the market..."

    That is about the most honest statement I've heard from a cable company in a long time. Just straight up admitting that until now they've been able to convince the city government to keep competitors out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 2:36pm

    That whole metro area needs to renegotiate cable services to get more competition. Google fiber under this contract isn't going to make much difference. A lot more is needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2015 @ 7:28pm

    The status quo... needs to bludgeoned.

    Get outta here! We don't want or need your fare and just competition around these parts. Go on!...GIT!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 11:07pm

    Cry babies

    A little soundtrack to go with Cox's whining:
    https://youtu.be/NjkNNDuAb9A

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 24 Feb 2016 @ 9:29am

    Can't wait to give Cox the boot!

    Of course Cox would sue. They know damn well that once GF comes to the valley, they're getting ran out of town. I can't wait to get GF, because I'm tired of paying for 100/10 speeds from Cox and only getting 36/6. Your days are numbered Cox!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chris capehart, 14 Aug 2016 @ 5:08am

    ima start a petition of cox customers to threaten to cancel there service unless the suite is dropped
    but it wont be a hadnfull itll be hundreds of thousands of customers all synchronized to callin on a specific date and cancel

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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