Time Warner Cable today made a fairly tepid attempt to counter some of the constant positive press Google is receiving for Google Fiber, announcing that Kansas City residents now have access to free Wi-Fi (if they're a subscriber) and discount broadband (if they're a low income family). Time Warner Cable held a press event in Kansas City today to announce that their network of Wi-Fi hotspots
has expanded to Kansas City, as well as their $10 Starter Internet
package aimed at low-income homes.
The announcement comes as Time Warner Cable finds itself in the unfamiliar position of having to compete. Neither initiative is new, and neither really does much to counter Google's competitive karate chop to the center of the cable giant's forehead.
While the Wi-Fi initiative is certainly welcome, it has become a fairly standard part of cable service in many markets. In contrast, Google is offering free Wi-Fi to many locations regardless of whether you're a Google Fiber customer or not.
Similarly, while the symmetrical 1 Mbps
$10 Starter Internet package (mirrored on an offer Comcast proposed to get regulatory approval for their NBC acquisition
) sounds nice, it's only offered in some school districts, and like the Comcast offer is a show pony with enough caveats
(pdf) that Time Warner Cable knows many, many families won't qualify. In contrast, Google's offering users a 5 Mbps connection over FTTH for "free," after you pay a $300 install fee. That fee can be paid in installments of $25 for a year, after which you don't pay a dime
So far, Time Warner Cable's engaging in the kind of theatrics they can pass off as "competing" in other markets, but which aren't likely to work in Kansas City. Time Warner Cable's largest effort to counter Google Fiber? Trying to lock customers into long-term contracts so they can't sign up for the speedy service without facing a stiff penalty. To retain customers Time Warner Cable's going to need engage in more than theatrics, they're going to have to raise local speeds and lower the price. It should be amusing to see just how long Time Warner Cable executives try to put off both.