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Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: In TV, 15 Google Fibers Make One Mediacom

Welcome to your weekly Gigabites. In this edition, Google Fiber flails in the TV market, gigabit providers extol the merits of taking video over the top, AT&T and Cox target individual housing developments and more.

  • Google Fiber Inc. revolutionized the broadband market by kicking off a nationwide gigabit race in 2012, but the company hasn't had the same follow-on effect on the TV market. Despite bundling video service with its gigabit offering -- something Google Fiber believes is necessary for success as an ISP -- the provider's TV subscriber numbers are almost vanishingly small. While Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) are changing the face of television, not only has Google Fiber not made much of a mark in terms of video innovation, it also hasn't converted many followers to its cause.

    According to new numbers published by the U.S. Copyright Office, Google Fiber had a total of 53,390 video subscribers at the end of 2015. As financial analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson points out, that makes Google Fiber's video operation roughly 1/15th the size of mid-tier cable operator Mediacom Communications Corp.

    Google Fiber has already invested significant money in its network services rollout, and according to parent company Alphabet Inc. , spending will only go up in 2016. That raises two questions: Can Google Fiber become a legitimate national broadband competitor, and will video be a catalyst or a drag on its progress? (See Google Will Accelerate Fiber, Cloud in 2016 and Alphabet Is Serious About Google Fiber.)


  • Want to learn more about Gigabit Cities? Join us and Google Fiber's Michael Slinger for Light Reading's second annual Gigabit Cities Live event taking place this year on April 5 in Charlotte, N.C.


  • In contrast to Google Fiber's TV roadmap, two other gigabit providers announced this week new over-the-top video plans to complement their high-speed broadband services. First, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) revealed plans for three new OTT offerings under the DirecTV brand. Then CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) discussed the soft launch of its new Prism Stream service at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.

    The OTT services aren't directly tied to gigabit rollouts, but they do indicate the evolving nature of how operators now think about deploying broadband and video. As everything migrates to IP, the most important offerings to consumers are high-speed Internet access and multiscreen video delivery. (See AT&T Cuts the Cord, Reveals OTT Video Plans.)

  • Back on the broadband side, gigabit rollouts by the largest ISPs continue, but often on a relatively small scale. Both AT&T and Cox Communications Inc. revealed new gigabit deployments this week targeted at very specific housing developments. AT&T has started advertising gigabit service to two housing divisions in Louisville, the same city where the company is now suing over a new ordinance designed to make it easier for new market entrants to get space on utility poles to deliver broadband service. And Cox announced a new rollout of its Gigablast service in Arizona, starting with a housing development in Tucson. (See also Gigabites: Google Fiber Fights for Pole Position.)

  • Some of the country's smaller ISPs had gigabit news this week too. Ting, a division of Tucows , announced its fourth gigabit market, the Greater Sandpoint area in Idaho. Ting already operates gigabit networks in Charlottesville, Va. and Westminster, Md., with plans to deploy in Holly Springs, N.C. Meanwhile, the Sea Ranch community in Sonoma County, Calif. is getting gigabit service, thanks to GigabitNow, which has started construction on a community-owned fiber network.

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

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