Cable Tech

Keeping Up With Google Fiber

It looks as if Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has set the going rate for gigabit broadband service.

Service providers using the open-access Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) fiber network in Utah, along with EPB Fiber Optics in Chattanooga, Tenn., are all dropping the rates on their 1Gbit/s service offerings to $70 per month or less. That price roughly matches the Google Fiber Inc. high-speed Internet tier in the Kansas City region and suggests that gigabit service could be commercially viable in residential markets.

Cable companies have long argued that consumers don't need gigabit speeds. But proponents of such high-capacity networks point to increased Internet usage and emerging applications as evidence that the demand exists.

Utopia highlights streaming video, distance learning, and video conferencing as the leading reasons for upgrading to 1Gbit/s service. EPB touts the economic development advantages of high-speed Internet and the culture of innovation that it creates. Beyond the residential service market, EPB also runs its power utility smart grid on the local gigabit network.

Most gigabit providers are also using TV service to generate revenue from their high-speed data networks. (See: Deutsche Telekom Tests Set-Top Virtualization.)

Cable companies aren't going for 1 gig yet, but they are moving in that direction. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) just bumped up its top-tier broadband service to 505 Mbit/s downstream and 105 Mbit/s upstream, while Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) made a similar upgrade to 500 Mbit/s downstream and 100 Mbit/s upstream in July. Unlike Google Fiber, however, Comcast and Verizon are charging upwards of $300 per month. (See: FiOS 500 Leaves Cable in Dust.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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brookseven 9/23/2013 | 9:22:49 AM
Re: Yo, Comcast albreznick,

Only places that have major fiber deployments have active government involvement.  The most subtle was Korea where they forced content folks to share some money with ASPs.  De-regulation has worked NOWHERE for this.

I would say the best way is to make Broadband a Universal Service with a mandatory deployment of 100Mb+ technology within 5 years.  Have a minimum technology increase over a 20 year period to 1Gb+ technology.  I would eliminate the difference between cable and telcos in regulation.

Now all of that is to get very high speed residential service.   I also feel it is completely unecessary.  Essentially more porn, games and entertainment does little to nothing for economic growth.

monster87 9/23/2013 | 1:38:51 AM
Why the ISP's rebuff 1GB It's fairly straightforward why 1GB internet isn't coming from the 'media ISP's'. 1GB service immediately renders all of their 'Tiered and Fair' Data Caps functionally ridiculous, and without data caps there is almost nothing that can stop the disintegration of the 1970's model of distributing TV and Cable content.

Sadly, progress is no longer the hand-maiden of ingeniuity, perseverence, and work. Mainstream technolgy is a race between corporation as to who can put more beaucratic impediments in front of competeing technologies.

It is important for everyone to realize that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and TWC will take any action necessary to prevent 1GB from becoming common. Sadly, the odds are probably 50/50 at to their success. Cheers.
albreznick 9/20/2013 | 5:55:39 PM
Re: Yo, Comcast What would you like to see the US government do to stimulate broadband competition? Should it set broadband speed standards to meet, as the European Commission and a number of countries do? Should it de-regulate further? If you were sitting in the FCC chair's seat, what would you try to do?
KBode 9/20/2013 | 4:17:54 PM
Re: Yo, Comcast True, though Mountain View is their campus, and you'd think that sort of rolls into just normal HQ expenditures. Also, I recently noted here how they've kind of let that Wi-Fi network go a little bit. I'm not sure if they've made much progress since I wrote that, however. They have invested in some additional Wi-Fi networks here and there, but like Google Fiber they've been somewhat scattershot.
DanJones 9/20/2013 | 2:53:16 PM
Re: Yo, Comcast One point against the experiment idea is that Google still operates that city WiFi network in Mountain View,no?

WiFi is NOT 1 Gig Fiber for sure but they seem prepared to spend big to continue to make massive ad revenues in the long-run (See also, Android.)
KBode 9/20/2013 | 11:45:43 AM
Re: Yo, Comcast "So let's start taking bets here. Who thinks that Google Fiber will flame out after a couple of years and who thinks it's a keeper?"

Despite Google's claim that Google Fiber is not an experiment, I do continue to think it's an experiment. My guess is it reaches a half-dozen cities, then gets sold and/or spun off or something in five years as Google makes the inevitible migration from disruptive innovator to turf protector (a la Microsoft).

That said, I still think it's great what they're doing. I believe the entire idea was to build a test bed for next-gen ad delivery while lighting a PR fire under the behinds of incumbent ISPs that have enjoyed limited competition and regulatory capture for far too long. Google Fiber is doing that to some degree, even if I think the PR (1 Gbps is the new normal!) outpaces the reality (I'm stuck on a crappy 3 DSL line from an uncompetitive telco and will be for the next decade) by a significant magntitude.

The real problem continues to be a lack of serious competiton, and nobody wants to seriously do anything to address that as government continues to buy into the industry pretense that this is not the industry's most pressing issue. Google Fiber in a half dozen cities can only do so much on that front. We need a change in thinking and a shift away from duopoly justification and protectionism and partisan fisticuffs.
timkridel 9/20/2013 | 11:25:02 AM
Re: Yo, Comcast Mediacom. The other major providers are CenturyLink and Socket, a CLEC. Socket resells CenturyLink in Columbia, but it recently built a network in surrounding communities partly because those municipalities don't have that outrageous RoW fee. 

I haven't seen a market-share breakdown in years, and it was only for video. 

The perception in Columbia and many other communities is that the lack of 1 Gbps service means we're at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining companies that need that bandwidth. But that's a myth. Those speeds are available to companies willing to pay the price: http://columbiabusinesstimes.com/13043/2011/10/28/gig-u-sparks-broadband-challenges/
albreznick 9/20/2013 | 11:12:49 AM
Re: Yo, Comcast Guess we know why they didn't make the cut, eh? So who's your BB provider and what's the market like there? 
timkridel 9/19/2013 | 6:10:32 PM
Re: Yo, Comcast It's Columbia, Missouri, former home to Sarah Reedy. It's also a city that bid for Google fiber while charging $1.91/foot/year for service providers that want to put fiber in municipal rights-of-way. Great strategy for encouraging 1 Gbps services, isn't it?
albreznick 9/19/2013 | 5:59:05 PM
Re: Yo, Comcast Nice, Tim. Maybe we should all move where you are. 

So let's start taking bets here. Who thinks that Google Fiber will flame out after a couple of years and who thinks it's a keeper? And, if you think it's a toy that will be dropped, how long do you think it will be before Google drops it?f

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