If you dig a little further into AT&T's packages and pricing, you find that this $79-per-month plan, called the Elite package, is not recommended for such ridiculous luxuries as emailing/uploading files, downloading movies, streaming video, or videoconferencing. Let that sink in for a second: $9 more per month than Google Fiber, and you shouldn't use it to send files or Skype. How ridiculous is that?
To come anywhere close to Google's $120 TV/Phone/Internet combo plan, you'd be into AT&T U-verse for $151 per month. That's the Max bundle, which offers up to 12Mbps downstream bandwidth. Compared to Google's pricing and speeds, that's a joke.
If you want any faster, you have to forgo the TV and phone and get AT&T's Max Turbo Internet package, which is $54.95 per month and clocks in at a whopping 24Mbps, or 2.4 percent of the speed of Google's gigabit fiber. For $15 less than Google Fiber, you get roughly 1/40th the speed.
These prices and offerings are so far apart they can't be considered competitive in any sense of the term. Yet AT&T is going to deploy gigabit fiber in Austin to compete with Google? I don't see how it could possibly do so without massive price reductions across the board.
What we have here is essentially chaos among the entrenched ISPs. One major ISP says its customers don't want the service, while another says it's going to do the same thing while apparently ignoring its entire pricing schedule. All I hear from the potential customers in these newly announced markets is a loud "hallelujah."
As I said last year, the very presence of Google Fiber and the resonance of a successful deployment will be felt throughout the industry:
In an ideal world, we won't have to rely on Google to ride into our town to free us from the shackles of our incumbent ISPs. The fact that Google can do this might provide the shakedown the industry desperately needs. Anything that breeds some form of real competition among carriers can only bring faster service, better pricing, and banishment of this nonsense talk about tiering and metering.
There is a very good chance that this might actually come to pass. It can't come too soon.
This story, "Challenged by Google Fiber, ISPs opt to hasten their downfall," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.