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1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • Google CFO Patrick Pichette stressed that the company's 1Gbit/s Google Fiber project in the Kansas Cities is more than an experiment; it's a potential revenue-driving business opportunity. "It's not a hobby," Pichette said on Tuesday's fourth-quarter earnings call. He reiterated that Google will continue to look at the possibility of expanding Google Fiber into other markets. Google must "nail Kansas City. It's a perfect place for us to kind of debug all of the elements of the product and the experience for the users," Pichette added.

    Google Fiber began to connect homes to the Hanover Heights section of Kansas City, Kan., last November. Looking ahead, Google Fiber is expected to connect another handful of "fiberhoods" (areas with 250 to 1,500 homes) this winter, followed by more than a dozen more in the spring. (See Google Fiber Starts to Hook Up Customers and Google Fiber's Non-Experimental Experiment.)

  • Cable and TV mogul Dr. John Malone has become the largest single minority investor in Columbus International Inc., a cable provider that serves about 500,000 customers in parts of the Caribbean, Central American and Andean regions, and is eying potential future acquisitions. Malone purchased the stake (amount of the investment was undisclosed) on his own, and not through Liberty Media Corp., where he serves as chairman. Columbus provides services under the FLOW brand in Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada and Curacao.

  • Motorola Mobility LLC's Home unit posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $21 million on revenues of $820 million. Google broke out those figures Tuesday as it prepares to close its sale of Motorola Home, which it now labels as "discontinued operations," to Arris Group Inc. for $2.35 billion. Motorola Home had 5,204 employees as of Dec. 31, 2012. Google and Arris intend to seal up the deal by April. (See Closing the Door on Motorola Home and Google Sells Moto home to Arris for $2.35B.)

  • Two old-time cable operators are about to become one. Service Electric Cablevision Inc., which launched cable services in 1948, has inked a deal to buy Pennsylvania-based Shen-Heights TV Associates Inc., another family-owned operator that's been around since 1951, reports the Republican Herald.

  • Cox Communications Inc. has launched home security services in Virginia, pitching service plans that start at $29.99 per month when bundled with other services. The latest launch follows earlier product debuts in Arizona, California, Oklahoma City and Cox's Northeast markets, which include Rhode Island, Connecticut and Cleveland, Ohio. Several other service providers, including Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., are also ramping up similar home security and automation services strategies. (See Will Service Providers Steal ADT's Customers?)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    Craig Matsumoto
    Craig Matsumoto,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/24/2013 | 6:37:59 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    ha - yes!!-á Google meeting with the unions - those meetings could be video gold.
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/24/2013 | 5:50:23 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    Imagine a Googler riding to his-ágrievance-ámeeting on his blue bike with his laptop in the basket...
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/23/2013 | 8:18:44 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    Craig's....imagine Google negotiating with unions. -áThat ought to make them happy. -áWould make me happy :)
    Craig Matsumoto
    Craig Matsumoto,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    1/23/2013 | 8:11:02 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    -áI don't know... I don't picture Google wanting to deal with any real world requirements (negotiating rights-of-way comes to mind).-á If another city gives them everything Kansas City did, i.e. makes it easy and cheap, then sure, Google might try another market.-á

    Otherwise... some people in Google might think it's "not just a hobby," but they'll find access to be a messier and less-fun job than they realize.
    User Rank: Blogger
    1/23/2013 | 7:52:37 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    Think bigger. What if Google buys FiOS? Or U-verse, Cablevision or Cox?

    Sound crazy? It sure would make the Kanas City project more than just a hobby. -á
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/23/2013 | 7:04:24 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    It's interesting to consider Google's comment about Kansas City being potentially a revenue-driving business opportunity in the wake of the FCC chairman's call for a gigabit network in every state. If there really is a business case for such high speed service, perhaps that goal-á won't be difficult to reach. Then again I wonder if what drives revenue for Google would drive revenue for any other service provider. Google is not a "dumb pipe" provider as people sometimes accuse other network operators of being.
    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/23/2013 | 3:47:57 PM
    re: 1-Gig Google Fiber Project Is 'Not a Hobby'
    Well, at least we know that the Google CFO-á and CEO are working off the same page of talking points....but I think there will still be surprise if/when Google expands this beyond the Kansas Cities. An interesting take from Todd Spangler at MultiChannel News, noting that a big part of this project is to help Google figure out last -mile costs and to use those findings as negotiations leverage with network operators.-ááJB

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