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Google Fiber Is a Faint Echo of the Disruption We Were Promised (vice.com) 173

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Some eight years on and Google Fiber's ambitions are just a pale echo of the disruptive potential originally proclaimed by the company. While Google Fiber did make some impressive early headway in cities like Austin, the company ran into numerous deployment headaches. Fearing competition, incumbent ISPs like AT&T and Comcast began a concerted effort to block the company's access to essential utility poles, even going so far as to file lawsuits against cities like Nashville that tried to expedite the process. Even in launched markets, customer uptake wasn't quite what executives were expecting. Estimates peg Google Fiber TV subscribers at fewer than 100,000, thanks in large part to the cord cutting mindset embraced by early adopters. Broadband subscriber tallies (estimated as at least 500,000) were notably better, but still off from early company projections. Even without anti-competitive roadblocks, progress was slow. Digging up city streets and burying fiber was already a time-consuming and expensive process. And while Google has tried to accelerate these deployments via something called "microtrenching" (machines that bury fiber an inch below roadways), broadband deployment remains a rough business. It's a business made all the rougher by state and local regulators and lawmakers who've been in the pockets of entrenched providers like Comcast for the better part of a generation.
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Google Fiber Is a Faint Echo of the Disruption We Were Promised

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  • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Monday March 05, 2018 @09:44AM (#56209775)

    But relaxing the existing rules to allow competition would be DE-REGULATION! Nobody wants that, right? It's not like regulatory capture is often used to stifle competition by existing markets or anything.

    • How foolish of you. The solution is obviously MORE regulation.
    • But relaxing the existing rules to allow competition would be DE-REGULATION! Nobody wants that, right? It's not like regulatory capture is often used to stifle competition by existing markets or anything.

      Since de-regulation will never happen, I don't want to hear the US bitching anymore about their shitty broadband capability vs. the rest of the world.

      When corrupt lawmakers support the Broadband Mafia at the highest levels, we get what we fucking deserve.

    • But relaxing the existing rules to allow competition would be DE-REGULATION! Nobody wants that, right?

      The only truly stupid people are the proponents of regulation and the proponents of de-regulation. What regulation is or isn't applied needs to be assessed on very specific cases. But you're never going to get that kind of critical though applied to anything in the Un-united States of Red vs Blue

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      But relaxing the existing rules to allow competition would be DE-REGULATION! Nobody wants that, right? It's not like regulatory capture is often used to stifle competition by existing markets or anything.

      "deregulation" is a meaningless buzz word which can distract from both the real important public interests being pursued with regulation and the real downsides that bad regulation can bring to the free market without meeting those legitimate public interest goals.

      I look at it as either good regulation that promotes competition and lowers barriers to entry while efficiently ensuring some public interest in health, safety or ensuring a level playing field in the free market.

      Or bad regulations that unnecessari

  • Yeah, how did "Don't be evil" work out for you?
    • oh it's not that. google just underestimated, again, how hard it can be to break into an industry with players deeply entrenched in all levels of government. they just kind of gave up, but you can't really blame them. big as they are, they are just one company against the several giants.

  • That’s what happens when you rely on a company that always half-asses things and due to its manic ADD it gets bored easily. They were never going to put in the full effort needed to take on Verizon, AT&T or Comcast.

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      I believe this is true, and what happens when you allow a bunch of 20-somethings attempt to bring products to market. While it's possible they are reasonably intelligent, they lack vision, drive, wisdom, and long-term focus. Google isn't too bad at developing technologies, but they are utterly abysmal at delivering those technologies to consumers.

      It's an ethos that appears to driven by the Silicon Valley mentality of constantly throwing things at the wall. I recently heard that no one in the valley takes yo

      • As opposed to all the boomers in charge of all the legacy, monolithic companies that are raping the planet and your wallet all in the name of the next bonus check for the god emperor CEOs? There's nothing wrong with young people, you're just a Luddite.
        • Well, they had vision and drive! They should get something for their hard work. Stop complaining and start paying back your $150,000 of tuition, petunia.

          Phew, I can't believe I just used up all my sarcasm and snark for one day in just 3 sentences. Everybody ok?

    • Yeah, it's not that Google failed... it's that they didn't really try all that hard to begin with. They basically rolled out 4 or 5 test markets, realized that "Gee, this broadband stuff is hard!", and then took their ball and went home.

      We really need municipalities to try harder at rolling out faster broadband, since they are more vested in it's overall success.

      • We really need municipalities to try harder at rolling out faster broadband, since they are more vested in it's overall success.

        There are plenty of municipalities that would love to. That's why the incumbent ISPs have gone to state legislatures to ban municipal broadband.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        Yeah, it's not that Google failed... it's that they didn't really try all that hard to begin with. They basically rolled out 4 or 5 test markets, realized that "Gee, this broadband stuff is hard!", and then took their ball and went home.

        Or they realized that given the current legal, what they were trying to do was actually not possible. Not "boy, this will be a tough fight!" Just not possible. There's no point in throwing tons of cash trying to spread into the fiber market when the government system is hostile to them. Regulations, agreements, and the general way in which we handle communications lines has to change first. Far too few people consider broadband important enough that it would affect their vote for a representative -- not tha

    • It's not just that Google is manic. Google isn't big enough to be a national telecom.

      I've been saying it since they announced this shit, and I'll say it again: You need TRillions to be a national telecom, not billions. The existing infrastructure, the rights to it, the bribed officials at every level, and the existing laws that grant actual monopolies to existing ISPs are way more than Google has the ability to take on.

      If you try to put up an actual fight, the existing telecoms will lower price just enou

  • If it's google, and too good to be true, it probably is.

    Don't ever trust them to do anything but try to monetize you and your data/

    If you buy hardware, expect it to die, with little or no updates, and no extended support.

    If you allow them to become your Internet provider, prepare to be disappointed.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I suppose the rule to follow is that Google's primary business is advertising, everything else is just about enabling advertising somehow and may not be persistent.

      I'm not exactly what Google's actual motivation was for fiber. Did they have some plan to sniff traffic to feed to their advertising platform somehow?

      I think there's a lot of projection on the part of people who think they were only in it to compete with traditional broadband providers because you know, more bandwidth for end users helps Google,

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I'm not exactly what Google's actual motivation was for fiber. Did they have some plan to sniff traffic to feed to their advertising platform somehow?

        I think it was just to migrate customers from local applications, local storage and broadcast media to web services, cloud services and streaming services. I doubt they really wanted to take the market, just shake it up so there'd be more potential Google customers. No Google fiber here in Norway, but damn it's accelerating fast.

        Latest stats:
        4% under 4 Mbps
        10% under 8 Mbps
        25% under 16 Mbps
        Median: 43.2 Mbps
        Average: 80.9 Mbps
        Gigabit: 0.5%

        Heck, even my parents who barely do anything online can't get under 10 M

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          That's a broad internet-wide benefit, though, and not a terribly Google-specific benefit. They're a smaller player in high-bandwidth products and their core products like search are pretty network efficient. It seems like a big initiative that helps competitors as much if not more than Google.

          Maybe it really was a crazy, pro-internet concept and not a Google specific benefit.

  • "broadband deployment remains a rough business. It's a business made all the rougher by state and local regulators and lawmakers who've been in the pockets of entrenched providers like Comcast for the better part of a generation.

    Well, the last part of that statement almost summed up the real issue; "been in the pockets of entrenched providers" is the PC-friendly way of saying that fucking greed and corruption have destroyed competition.

    If Google can't succeed, don't think for a fucking second ANY lesser company stands a chance. Not until the Broadband Mafia is deregulated.

    • What are these regulations you talk about? What regulations apply to ISP's today in the US?
  • Google Is a Faint Echo of the Disruption We Were Promised

    There! now you got it more correctly. You are welcome.

  • Broadband distribution has enormous capital expenses, I was never sure why Google thought they could 'disrupt' their way around the laws of finance and physics, but this is the end result. The only areas where Google had any success were the cities where someone gifted them an existing fiber optic system already in place and they basically just had to light it up. This type of infrastructure is so expensive to build that the competitive free-market capitalist model just simply doesn't work. The minute yo
  • At least all of us hopeful early adopters in the Research Triangle got cool T-shirts. Still waiting for Google Fiber.
  • It's gotten the entrenched providers to upgrade their systems across the country. In Dallas, I have no option for Google Fiber, but have 70 mb/s speeds from Spectrum.
  • I've had Time-Warner and AT&T internet service, and Google Fiber is easily the best in terms of speed, uptime, and, importantly, customer service and the customer-facing website that you use to configure the service. As others have stated, Google Fiber has forced the other players in the area (Time-Warner, AT&T, and Grande) to lower their prices and improve their offerings. I've had Google Fiber gigabit Internet now for a couple of years and I haven't contacted tech support even once. So, yeah, Go
  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Monday March 05, 2018 @11:37AM (#56210255)

    ...how much of the US was pretty much given on a silver plate to the current ISP monopolies, and how much ISPs are still paying politicians for things to remain that way... it's just sad.
    For anyone thinking this is Google's fault, you really need to search around and read articles that explains it from the company's side.

    To put it very simply, it was taxpayer money that paid the entire infrastructure to handle the Internet, rights to it was haphazardly given up to ISPs, now everytime Google needs to pass fiber through existing infrastructure (which sometimes is the only way), it needs to gently ask permission to the likes of AT&T and Comcast to do so, which of course will do everything not to let them, including suing Google when the local government tries to expedite the whole thing.

    Google Fiber failed because the government gave US infrastructure on a silver platter to existing ISP monopolies. That's why. It's the same reason why the FCC is working the way it is right now. You guys have an effective telecommunications mafia up there and it's gonna stay that way.

    It's why Google caved in and started working on the next high speed transmission technology instead of wasting time and money in something that won't work out. Don't take it from me though, just search around for the information.

  • Google has tried to accelerate these deployments via something called "microtrenching" (machines that bury fiber an inch below roadways)

    I don't know how roads are in the U.S.A. but if you try to bury anything only one inch below roadways in Canada, you can kiss whatever you buried goodbye, it will only last a few months.

    • In much of the US, we can bury shallow. Heck, most homes around here (Ventura County) are just slab with 12" footers. Not having frost-lines (those are up in the mountains around us) means things stay pretty safe underground. Unless there's an earthquake, but then any depth at all doesn't protect you buy simply makes it more expensive to repair/replace (have to dig deeper). That's the benefit we have compared to our Neighbors to the North: no permafrost! :)
    • The cable company told the city that they had buried all their wires 12" deep. I cut their cable at 4" deep with my shovel in my backyard.

  • I'm posting this through my $60 100Mb/100Mb AT&T fiber connection from my small town. Should we not credit Google Fiber for rattling the cages of the giants ISPs through competition threat to get them to move forward on products like these? I do.
    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I think they obviously have. I live in a city with google fiber depending where you are in the city. And the other ISPs have been trying to cut down prices in the areas served by google fiber.

      Where I live where Google Fiber is available, spectrum fiber actively cut its price to $30/month (for 12 month). While three blocks away, spectrum fiber is still about $70/month. Difference is Google fiber does not go there.

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Monday March 05, 2018 @12:56PM (#56210737)

    The city is largely bending over backwards to try to help Google Fiber. The problem is our state legislature, which is flaming red and never misses an opportunity to fellate AT&T for more bribes, sorry, "campaign contributions". Our legislature has never seen a broadband bill favoring AT&T that they didn't like, nor a broadband bill helping Google or municipalities/utilities that they wouldn't go out of their way to squash.

    The people living in cities are being held political hostage by the people in rural areas who voted (R) without thinking. I'd imagine Kansas is in a similar predicament.

  • Pretty much everything is a "try".

    And past some arbitrary point, they just stop trying...

  • There is no Google Fiber offering where I live, but just the thought of them persuading a city 130 miles away forced local ISPs to step up their game. I'm now on symetrical gigabit fiber from CenturyLink because of what Google pushed. Google wasn't about overtaking ISPs nation wide, they were all about showing that gigiabit internet could be provided and still profitable. They succeeded in this, and forced the hands of ISPs who were lying all along about the cost of doing business. Overall, they did indeed

  • If Google wants to drive the adoption of high speed fiber Internet then why don't they develop an application that requires it? You don't need gigabit speeds to stream Netflix.

    I guess chasing away all the people who were actually developing products in favor of SJWs is beginning to backfire.

  • They like to offer big deals to people as the network is being built if they will agree to being locked into long term contract. They did that in the city I live in as well.

  • I live in Austin, and I do have to say that microtrenching is kind of nasty -- it's all over my neighborhood.

    It "scars" the roads and leaves bumps that are getting worse over time as whatever it is that they used to fill them in gets pushed in more. It's not so noticeable in a car, but on a bicycle it is.

    And I fear what might happen when they resurface the roads (which they do periodically.) If the fiber really is only an inch or two down, when they scrape off the top of the road it might tear up the fiber

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday March 05, 2018 @07:02PM (#56213195) Homepage

    The service is excellent. Google's uptime has been flawless, the original install appointments went smoothly and were kept, the equipment is high quality, and the gigabit service does actually deliver a full gigabit of bandwidth up *and* down in tests. And all for $70/month, which includes 1TB online storage via Google Drive.

    Just as cool, you can simply log into fiber.google.com and downgrade to 100mbps ($50/mo.) or 5mbps (free) at will. You can upgrade and downgrade, click, click, click, and it will pro-rate costs for you automatically. Basically, it's a flawless service in every way.

    One of the things that I'm convinced hurt Google in this area is that there was already entrenched competition from the usual suspects in national broadband brands.

    For decades, it had been 5mbps-10mbps down and a fifth of that upstream as the maximum service tier at every major provider. And for that you paid $50-$70 monthly. As soon as Google Fiber deployed, suddenly *every provider* offered Gigabit for less than $100/mo. plus value adds and promos. I mean, it took weeks max, once Google Fiber started scheduling installations. Just like that. And a lot of people stuck with the devil they already know, particularly if they were already getting TV and/or landline service through them, and particularly if Google had install times a week or two out but their current provider could bump them up within a day or two.

    Google broke the market wide open here, but at the same time ended up with scraps in the end. Most of the people that I know stuck with their previous provider and ended up with gigabit speeds anyway at or near their previous subscription cost once Google entered the local market. I worry that if Google were to pull out of the market for some reason, suddenly "market realities" would reduce the offerings of the other providers once again to $70/mo. for 5mbps, as it had previously been.

    So I hope Google stays.

    • As soon as Google Fiber deployed, suddenly *every provider* offered Gigabit for less than $100/mo. plus value adds and promos. I mean, it took weeks max, once Google Fiber started scheduling installations. Just like that.

      That was always half the point: to provide a convenient lightning rod for customer anger, should the incumbent's lay a heavy hand on their escalating coefficient of customer rape.

      Because Google fiber merely exists, incumbents must boil their frogs in the slow lane, everywhere in America, or

  • Everyone wants Google Fiber, but they can't get it, because Google only installed it for people who signed up two years in advance (as it turned out in Austin), and then, only installed for those homes during a brief period before moving on to another region. It's Google's fault for making such a complicated process.

    I had a Google Fiber fan blog to get the word out and spread the news. I heard from SO MANY people who pish-poshed the signup and deposit requirement and told me confidently that they would simp

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