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CenturyLink Whines About Google Fiber in Utah
Uses Sleazy Tactics for a Decade, Cries About Fairness
by Karl Bode 09:40AM Thursday Apr 25 2013 Tipped by Bill Neilson See Profile
As we noted last week when Google Fiber announced they were expanding into Provo, Utah, the deal is particularly bad news for CenturyLink, who, after a decade of pampered monopoly privilege and regulatory capture in the SouthWest, is nowhere close to being able to match Google speeds. For years (under the Qwest brand) the company has bullied local municipal fiber builds in Utah, crushed all local competition, then provided sub standard broadband services that in many cases can't provide users with anything faster than 3 Mbps.

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The company has been an immensely anti-competitive and sue-happy bully for more than a decade, yet now that Google Fiber is coming to town, CenturyLink is whining about fairness:
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, council attorney Brian Jones took the stand and acknowledged the city had received a letter Monday from CenturyLink objecting to the sale and asking for the vote to be delayed by 30 days. That would give the city time to fulfill a large and expensive Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) request from the company, and to let them object to the process of the negotiation.

"CenturyLink feels they have been treated unfairly," Jones said. "They feel they were excluded from the process."
There are real questions about the steal of a deal Google obtained, particularly how taxpayers remain on the line for millions in old loans. However, CenturyLink has less than zero ground to stand on, and they're about to learn the tactics they've used against under-funded little Utah communities aren't going to work on Google. Meanwhile, the city council points out that they had contacted CenturyLink many times about bids to improve local broadband infrastructure, but just like Qwest (who they merged with in 2011), the company showed no interest:
"CenturyLink responded to the RFQ but never responded to the RFP," Jones said. He noted the city continued to contact them on several occasions beginning in 2010 and they did not respond. Three weeks after the RFP closed they still contacted CenturyLink to see if they had any intent, with no response. As late as last November there was still contact, with no response.
Now that Google Fiber's in town, CenturyLink suddenly has the gall to whine about fairness, and rather unsurprisingly Provo locals have absolutely no sympathy. Part of the beauty of Google Fiber is seeing anti-competitive bullies get their comeuppance after years of bribing politicians to protect their regional little uncompetitive fiefdoms. It's just a shame Google Fiber isn't in oh, about a thousand more markets.

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Sandy, UT

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reply to battleop

Re: Where is their argument?

As I've said before, most of the power, telephone and other utilities in counties and cities around the country even including major cities was originally built by taxpayer coops and later given (usually at no charge) to private regulated monopoly providers. Without those taxpayer created coops more than 90% of the country would never have been wired. Those same private companies now call foul when the same policies that benefited them are utilized again to work around their unwillingness to invest capital.

It's stupid that we are paying to build out these systems 2 to 3 times. Telecommunication costs in the US are easily three times what they are in the rest of the developed world primary because we are building everything multiple times. Every community in this country should be constructing UTOPIA like systems to serve their communities and selling open access to the last mile. This stupid view that private enterprise is the only way to do something is just idiotic.

Looking at the bigger picture

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reply to battleop
Even if it IS funded with government funds it is the people that have the argument, not Century link. I agree that tax-funded muni networks are a hotly debated topic but a company that can't or won't provide the service should not be a part of that debate.