The Wall Street Journal
has an interesting article exploring complaints on how Google Fiber (and responding, highly-selective deployments by CenturyLink, AT&T, and others) may fuel a digital divide by only upgrading select residents in certain cities. That said, the article claims that Google Fiber's ability to deploy fiber to just select locations helped save them 20% over traditional builds like Verizon's FiOS. "If Verizon resumes expansion, the company would consider Google's build-to-demand model because it has the potential to be more profitable," Verizon executive Chris Levendos tells the paper.
Back in April Cox Communications announced
that the company would be launching 1 Gbps service of their own sometime this year, though they failed to offer any meaningful specifics about where or when. In May, Cox provided a little more detail in an announcement
, stating that the company's deployment of 1 Gbps service will start start with new residential construction projects and new and existing neighborhoods in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Omaha.
Google announced back in February
that they were working with 34 potential new Google Fiber cities, requesting those cities fill out and agree to a fiber ready checklist
to make installation easier. Speaking on the company's earnings call last week
, Google SVP and CFO Patrick Pichette stated that the economics behind Google Fiber continue to improve, and that their work with those 34 cities continues. "Over the coming months we’ll actually be going through all of the details with them, whether it would be right away or permitting or otherwise, and that’s what we’re going to use to make decisions as to how broad a program will have," states Pichette. It remains entirely unclear how many of those 34 cities will actually see future Google Fiber builds.
The Internet Association -- a trade group representing 36 different Internet companies including Google, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo, and PayPal -- have filed a formal request with the FCC
(pdf) urging the agency to pass "simple, light touch rules" protecting the even and fair delivery of content and services across broadband networks.
The companies call on the FCC to subject broadband ISPs to nondiscrimination, no-blocking, and "robust" transparency requirements, while also ensuring ISPs aren't hindering competitors through peering or other shenanigans.
In April of last year when Google announced they'd be bringing Google Fiber to Austin
, the company stated they expected Austin users to start being hooked up around the middle of 2014. The halfway of the point has rolled on past, and Google now seems to be indicating the first Austin Google Fiber users will be hooked up sometime "later this year." To be fair mid-year wasn't a particularly hard deadline, and the company tells Multichannel News
that projects of this scale "takes a whole lot of time to plan for":
“Construction is underway, and we plan to open sign-ups and start hooking up our first Austin customers later this year,” Google Fiber spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said via email...“It’s a big construction project, so it takes a whole lot of time to plan for,” she added, according to the report. “We’re working as quickly as we can to get Fiber to Austin residents soon, and we hope to have more information to share soon. It’s a lot of work, and we want to make sure we are doing it right."
In the coming months the company should announce "fiberhood" rallies that will dictate which neighborhoods will be the first to get service.
Previously, we have discussed a number
in Kansas City where those installing Google Fiber were "butchering
" the homeowner’s property. Although Google says they're learning as they go, complaints are still rolling in about installers tearing apart property with rutted lawns and busted gas lines.
Earlier this week we noted how Google Chromebook Pixel buyers were told they'd get two years of free LTE data, only to have Verizon forget the deal ever existed after one year
. After the problem gained some attention over at ComputerWorld, Google has started offering users $150 VISA gift cards
to make up for it. "While this particular issue is outside of our control, we appreciate that this issue has inconvenienced some of our users," the Google spokesperson said.
As part of the company's ongoing expansion into, oh, everything
, Google has announced
that they're testing a domain registration service dubbed Google Domains
that's currently invite only. "Google Domains isn’t fully-featured yet, but we’re giving a small group of people the ability to buy and transfer domains through it and send feedback on their experience," notes the company. "We want input on all the ways we can help make finding, buying, transferring and managing a domain a simple and transparent experience," insists Google. The announcement comes just a few weeks after GoDaddy filed their long-awaited IPO.
One of the broadband balloons used by Google for the company's Loon
initiative caused a bit of a ruckus in New Zealand recently when locals mistook the balloon for a crashing plane. According to the Wall Street Journal
, a variety of emergency services were dispatched including a rescue helicopter, only to find a deflated balloon. Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we’ve continued to do research flights to improve the technology,” a Google spokesman told the Journal. Aside from the occasional knocking out of power lines
, a recent update
notes the project is making good strides at keeping balloons aloft longer to deliver speeds of 5 to 22 Mbps.
In June of last year Google unveiled Google Loon
, the latest in a long line of similar projects that will use hot air balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft.
Back when cities were clamoring and climbing over one another to be chosen as the first city for Google Fiber back in 2010, Portland's Hopworks Urban Brewery offered a brief run of "Gigabit Indian Pale Ale" to try and draw some attention to Portland. It didn't work (Kansas City was initially chosen as the first launch market), though the beer is making a brief appearance this week as the city votes on a preliminary franchise agreement
with Google Fiber in the hopes of being one of Google Fiber's 34 possible next launch cities
. As noted recently
, Portland has had to rework several city ordinances on telecom cabinet placement to win Google's potential affection.
Google this week paid $500 million to acquire Skybox Imaging. While Skybox primarily focuses on satellite imaging, Google says the acquisition will also be useful for their developing-world satellite broadband efforts
. "Their satellites will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery," Google said in a statement
announcing the deal. "Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in." Google has been experimenting with both broadband by balloon (Google Loon
) as well as broadband by drone (they recently also acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace
Network gear manufacturer Sandvine apparently isn't a big fan of both Netflix's and YouTube's new ISP streaming performance rankings, insisting that the data collected by both is unreliable and conflicting. In a blog post
, Sandvine points out that ISPs deemed "HD Verified" by Google's new ISP ranking (discussed by us here
) are sometimes categorized as under-performers in Netflix's rankings, and vice-versa:
Google is essentially saying Rogers’ customers who use YouTube are capable of regularly experiencing HD streams, while Netflix is saying Rogers’ subscribers are experiencing the worst quality of Netflix streaming in the country.
It was rather clear that Google TV landed with a bit of a thud, though it was made clearer when Logitech CEO Guerrino De Luca in 2012 stated their launch of the Google TV powered Revue was "a mistake of implementation of a gigantic nature," and that Google's product was a glorified beta
. Google has had other hardware missteps as well, including the launch of the now largely useless Nexus Q
. Now Google is preparing to unveil a new Android-powered TV platform
at their upcoming I/O Conference later this month:
Android TV won’t be another device, but rather a platform that manufacturers of TVs and set-top boxes can use to bring streaming services to the television. In that way, it is similar to Google TV, the platform the company unveiled at its 2010 Google I/O conference. But while Google TV was focused on marrying existing pay TV services with apps, Android TV will at least initially be all about online media services and Android-based video games.
The new platform will have a "cards" based GUI powered by something Google's calling "Pano." Reports suggest that Google is happy with the success of the $35 Chromecast, but wants more powerful devices that are capable of more potent casual games (think of more direct competitors' to Amazon's Fire TV).
Add Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, DropBox, Yahoo and about 145 other companies to the list of voices that aren't particularly impressed with FCC boss Tom Wheeler's half-hearted effort to protect network neutrality. In a letter
(pdf) the companies express concerns that Wheeler's approach effectively signs off on the kinds of gatekeeper, pay-to-play efforts incumbents like AT&T have been dreaming about for years
Google has been very quiet about sign up totals for Google Fiber so far, so Bernstein Research recently conducted a door to door survey across five Kansas City neighborhoods
(via Multichannel News
). Bertstein says the firm is seeing significantly higher adoption in those neighborhoods than they previously suspected, suggesting that in the admittedly-limited areas that Google Fiber is deployed, the ultra-fast service is delivering a bit of a beating to incumbent ISPs.
AT&T today announced that the company is "eyeing" 100 potential target cities as locations they may
deploy faster 1 Gbps "Gigapower" service. According to the company's press release
, this "major initiative" will target 100 "candidate cities and municipalities" across 21 metropolitan areas nationwide.
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