Challenged by Google Fiber, ISPs opt to hasten their downfall

Chaos reigns among the big ISPs as Google Fiber spreads beyond the Kansas City 'test'

Last summer I posited that Google's fiber play in Kansas City would create a ripple through other regions of the country. It appears this is happening now, albeit in ways I don't think anyone really expected.

The first surprise was the continued ostrich maneuver that some big cable and DSL providers are pulling, namely the "customers don't want gigabit Internet" front. This could be likened to a lead paint salesman pooh-poohing latex paint because "customers don't want their health." It's just blather -- a smokescreen to obscure the fact that the entrenched monopolies/oligopolies do not want to upgrade their networks. It's easy to justify delivering subpar performance for premium prices if you delude yourself into thinking that your customers don't want anything more.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Google Fiber puts the ISPs to shame. | You'll never get Google Fiber -- but you don't need it anyway. | Why we need to win the battle for the ultrafast Internet. | Get the latest practical info and news with InfoWorld's Data Center newsletter. ]

The second was the speed with which Google Fiber has been requested and deployed. There are already plans to expand the initial Kansas City footprint, and Google recently announced plans to deploy a new network in Austin, Texas, as well as purchase a failed community fiber network in Provo, Utah, and turn it into a Google Fiber plant. Suddenly, we're looking at gigabit fiber Internet in three locations in the United States, not just a "test" in Kansas City.

Third was the reaction from other segments of the incumbent ISP cabal. AT&T announced it will be deploying a gigabit fiber network in Austin as well. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath on this one. I figure this is a press release designed to bluff Google and other involved parties in the Austin area and to gain some mindshare that AT&T is stepping up to the challenge.

Frankly, I think it would be a waste to roll out two separate fiber networks in Austin simultaneously, so AT&T is trying to steal some thunder here. Of course, given AT&T's track record, stealing thunder might be all it can do.

Let's take a look at AT&T's current pricing. To get 6Mbps downstream (undisclosed upstream on that site), TV, and phone, the rate is $79 per month, which is $9 more than Google's package with symmetric gigabit data speeds, but no TV or phone.

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