Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Google's Back on the Pole

It's been a light week for gigabit news, what with IBC and CTIA Super Mobility Week on tap. But never fear, your Gigabites roundup is still here. In today's edition, Google Fiber scores a win in Nashville, the city of Modesto, Calif., investigates building its own municipal network, observers try to determine just what AT&T means when it puts the "deployed" stamp on a new gigabit city and more.

  • The local government in Nashville, Tenn., voted by a wide margin (32-7) this week to give preliminary approval to a One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) ruling that would make it easier and faster for Google Fiber Inc. to deploy gigabit services in the city. The proposal has drawn fire from incumbent broadband providers, and particularly from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has argued that the ordinance could lead to network outages and would certainly give unfair advantage to new market entrants.

    To review, the OMTR ruling promises to streamline the process for attaching new fiber lines to utility poles in Nashville. Google Fiber says that there are 44,000 utility poles in the city that need to be prepared for new lines. Of that 44,000, only 33 have received attention so far. And the slow pace is stymying the company's efforts to deploy new gigabit services. (See Gigabites: A Love Letter to Nashville.)

    While the preliminary municipal vote this week was a win for Google Fiber, it's not the last hurdle in Nashville. A final vote will take place on September 20 before the ordinance is handed over to the mayor's office for his signature. Assuming the ruling passes, Google Fiber is still likely to face holdups while AT&T challenges the ordinance in court. The telco has already sued Louisville over similar action.

  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

  • For all the excitement Google Fiber has generated in the broadband world, the company still has one major problem even in the cities where its gigabit service is available: low, low, very low adoption. According to new estimates by analyst Craig Moffett (hat tip, Fierce Cable), Google Fiber likely had no more than 453,000 broadband customers at the end of June. The poor adoption rate has many, including Moffett, believing that parent company Alphabet Inc. will ultimately abandon the broadband infrastructure game. Google Fiber has repeatedly said that's not the case, however. Now if only it could put up some better numbers to prove it.

  • The success of EPB Fiber Optics in Chattanooga, Tenn., has sparked many other cities around the country to explore their own municipal broadband plans. The latest to make its plans known is Modesto. Recently, Modesto approved a budget of $167,365 to hire a consulting firm to hash out the practicalities of building a new fiber network. That's just the first step, however. The actual investigation is expected to take six months.

  • And finally, a few towns outside of Chattanooga say they are reserving judgment on AT&T's promises to bring new gigabit services to their neighborhoods. EPB isn't allowed to expand beyond its current borders to the nearby towns, and AT&T says it will help fill the broadband gap. But residents are wary, wondering when and where the telco is likely lay down new fiber.

    There is reason for that wariness. AT&T will often say it has launched gigabit service in a market when in reality only select neighborhoods have service available. A user forum over on DSLReports is dedicated to building a list of the neighborhoods AT&T actually serves with Gigapower in the cities where it's deployed.

    — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

  • tyrellcorp 9/11/2016 | 5:48:55 PM
    Poor adoption rate? About 90% of the subscriptions are in KC market.  Google Fiber has agreements in KC that cover about 500K to maybe 600K homes (several burbs do not have agreements).  If they have about 300K-400K cusomters in KC, that is an abnormally high adoption rate expecially considering how much compettion there is in KC.

    The problem isn't uptake rate where they are actually present, it's that the rollout in other markets is very slow.
    Sign In