After spending time and money advertising the service, and getting customers excited about FTTH-based gigabit broadband and everything that brings, building out new access networks proved to be a time-consuming endeavor hampered by red tape and legal challenges from AT&T and others over pole provisioning. (See Gigabites: Google's Back on the Pole.)
Google Fiber Inc. has had limited success in the eight metro markets in which it has managed to deploy its services but after more than five years and just a small number of launches it's clear that the Internet giant's ultra-broadband service ambitions had not been met.
If anything, this serves to highlight the many barriers to entry by a new challenger, including: the financing of such projects -- it's an expensive business with many deployment, operational and bureaucratic hurdles; it's a time-consuming and painstaking business, with rules, regulations and processes often differing from market to market; the unwillingness of incumbent players to allow new entrants into any market without a tactical fight.
I don't think Google foresaw the severity of these issues, including AT&T's litigation against Nashville Electric Service for plans to speed up the pole provisioning process and "right of entry" challenges, after the impact it had early in its gigabit endeavors.
You could say that this is just business: What do the likes of AT&T and Comcast, with their much larger broadband delivery and support resources, really stand to lose if the playing field was leveled and the battle was for providing the best customer service experience?
It's easy to call Google Fiber a failure -- and AT&T hasn't held back in taking a dig at its rival -- but all in all it was willing to take a chance on delivering gigabit services to challenge and change the way business was done. And while it may have become frustrated at the time it was taking to get things done -- the ultra-broadband market still moves at telco pace, not web-scale speeds -- it will have learned a lot of valuable lessons.
And it has arguably been the catalyst that kickstarted many a gigabit broadband strategy, as well as providing insight and case studies for others wanting to throw their hat into the municipal fiber ring. Google Fiber's experience could lead to renewed scrutiny on the plans and actions of the incumbents that often seem reluctant to move forward, as well as provide inspiration for smaller communities that may otherwise miss out on the gigabit revolution.
This in turn could help spur process, regulatory and technology innovations and trials in next-generation deployment. There's a lot of talk around hybrid fixed/wireless networks and, as long as the backhaul capacity is sufficient and planned appropriately, this might be a way forward for competitive service providers.
And don't forget, Google has just pressed the pause button and is active in its high-speed wireless broadband activities, a reminder for the dominant players that it hasn't abandoned the broadband sector altogether. (See Google Fiber Now a Wireless ISP!)
Gary McLaren, CTO and co-owner of Hong Kong Broadband Network, talks to us about why Hong Kong is more forward-thinking than other cities and what others can learn if they want to lead a smarter future.
When is a 'gigabit' service a gigabit service? New Zealand ISP Spark pushes ahead with its new Ultra Fast Fibre MAX broadband product offering near-gigabit speeds, but can't yet call it a gigabit service.
It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
Having the insights needed to proactively resolve issues, often before your subscribers even know that there are issues;
Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.