osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Link Harvest: Interesting blog post on Google Fiber's 1st Anniversary


An interesting take on how GOOG Fiber has impacted the market despite its very modest (probably less than 2K so far) number of subscribers.

I confess to feeling conflicted on the "build to demand" model. It is a radical departure from the traditional universal build out requirement of telecom and cable -- which included anti-redlining protections. First of all, I lost the fight to preserve anti-redlining rules in '05-'06 when AT&T and VZ lead the charge to revise local franchising law to eliminate most public interest obligations that had existed on cable services (including anti-redlining rules)  on the promise of deploying video services and better broadband. That Google is taking advantage of this and offering real competition seems to me just deserts. Except, of course, for the people in the neighborhoods that don't have service because they didn't meet their fiberhood quota.

Second, GOOG did offer every neighborhood an equal chance. But the reality is that in poorer neighborhoods they have no idea why they need 1 gig (and may lack computers at home to take advantage of it) and it actually cost money to register for the service. True, it was a modest fee (and such things are useful to help ensure commitment and fund initial build), but the fee requirement weighs disproportionately on the very communities most subject to redlining.

There are other offsetting issues as well. GOOG's policy of offering free lower-speed service for a one-time install fee to multi-dwelling units (MDUs), such as low-income housing projects, helps get fiber and affordable broadband into places you wouldn't otherwise penetrate with affordable broadband.

Finally, there is the fact that GOOG is a new entrant offering an advanced service. (In fact, if GOOG were not also offering video, it wouldn't need a franchise and the anti-redlining stuff would not have come up because we don't require any service obligations on broadband.) Traditionally, we've applied build out to the basic service. We made a somewhat similar calculus to get fiber to the home (FTTH) by exempting FTTH systems from the unbundled network element requirements so Verizon and other telcos did not have to share the new infrastructure with competitors such as Earthlink. Again, if traditional players want to play the 'fairness' card, then we ought to revoke the incentives we gave them which were equally 'unfair.'

As always, life is complicated.

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