Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, competition, fiber, google fiber

Companies:
at&t, google



AT&T Mocks Google Fiber's Struggles, Ignores It Caused Many Of Them

from the gigabit-hubris dept

Google Fiber executives recently announced that the company would be putting some potential cities on hold as the search giant ponders a pivot to wireless. Building fiber networks from scratch is neither quick nor easy, and there are many at Google who believe that next-generation wireless (especially millimeter wave technology) will allow them to bypass many of the headaches tied to traditional fiber builds. Needless to say, many of the broadband industry's entrenched incumbent ISPs were quick to pounce on Google Fiber's troubles, insisting the Silicon Valley company was finally giving up (it's not).

One such ISP is AT&T, which apparently thought it would be a good idea to celebrate Google Fiber's deployment hiccups with a new blog post lauding its own fiber to the home achievements while deriding Google Fiber as hype and nonsense:
"What some of our competitors are just starting to realize (one after 6 years and only 8 metros) is that this endeavor is challenging. Connecting customers at scale and investing capital today in the future of connectivity is a big deal. Expanding the availability of faster wired and wireless speeds begins with a conversation with cities and customers – not a checklist dictating terms or by pushing cities to enact lopsided legislation.

We don’t take shortcuts. This is about good old-fashioned hard work, not new-age marketing promises that fall short in the end."
Obviously there are a few things AT&T forgets to mention here. One being that AT&T's gigabit fiber deployments only exist because Google Fiber made the entire industry look stupid by offering speeds none of them wanted to provide -- at prices few if any were willing to offer. AT&T's gigabit service appeared only after Google Fiber -- and costs upwards of $50 less each month in markets where Google Fiber provides service. Yet in market after market, AT&T has responded to this obvious impact of actual competition by denying Google Fiber motivated them whatsoever. Most people know better.

Meanwhile, AT&T's own, purportedly superior fiber deployments cited in the piece are based in large part on hot air. The telco has a proud history of fiddling with its broadband coverage numbers, usually to trick regulators into supporting bad policy or mergers (like when it said it would no longer deploy fiber if net neutrality rules passed). With a few regional exceptions (Austin & the Triangle in North Carolina) AT&T's "launched" fiber markets usually consist of a few high-end development communities and some local college dorms (where fiber is already in the ground and installation costs are minimal) and little more.

But the biggest thing AT&T forgets to mention in its blog post is that AT&T has worked tirelessly to unfairly target Google Fiber since inception. Whether it's writing and lobbying for state laws that hamstring Google Fiber's attempts to strike local public/private partnerships, or using pole attachment bureaucracy to make installations a nightmare, AT&T has spent the better part of a generation making things difficult for competitors. As such, mocking what Google Fiber's trying to do as "new age marketing" (damn you, California hippies) while actively sabotaging these efforts is obnoxious.

In reality, AT&T has been skimping on its fixed-line broadband network for years, and is now spending $150 billion to buy DirecTV and Time Warner while its broadband customers flee to faster cable broadband. In fact, AT&T's biggest "innovations" in the fixed-line broadband market have consisted of things like imposing usage caps and usage fees on uncompetitive markets, and trying to charge a huge monthly premium for users to protect their own privacy.

While Google Fiber did pause deployments in eight "potential" (but never formally confirmed) markets to consider a shift to wireless, it's still deploying fiber in nearly a dozen other regions. And should Google Fiber's pivot to wireless be successful, AT&T will likely find its glib celebration to have been more than a little premature.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2016 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    My impression of the Techdirt audience (which could well be wrong) is there are a lot of libertarians and a lot of liberals. Not exclusively those two of course, but many of both.

    And does anyone really consider the Democrats liberal any more?

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