National telecoms like AT&T have said they are going to compete with Google Fiber, but there's not been much proof of that so far. Instead, startups and small phone companies are leading the charge in bringing fiber Internet to more Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Vermont Telephone Co, a local telecom that only recently upgraded its century old network, has recently installed fiber across its service area thanks to stimulus money it received as part of the FCC's National Broadband Plan. The company plans to offer gigabit speeds for only $35 a month, half of what Google Fiber charges for it service.
Funny enough, the company has Google to thank for its new fiber Internet. Michel Guite, Vermont Telephone Co.'s CEO, said that he was denied federal stimulus money when he first applied. After the Google Fiber announcement, the government agreed to fund the upgrade.
Vermont Telephone Co. is not alone either in receiving funding either. The Wall Street Journal says that more than 700 rural telephone companies have upgraded their infrastructure to fiber to keep up with the big ISPs. What's funny is that these rural telephone companies are now starting to offer better service at cheaper prices than the major players.
Putting the proliferation of gigabit Internet aside for a moment, it's encouraging that more rural communities are getting access to faster and cheaper Internet. The large companies often ignore these smaller communities saying the cost of building out Internet to remote areas isn't worth the investment. Of course, the FCC is trying to change that with its City Gigabit Challenge, and one lawmaker has even proposed legislation that would make broadband Internet much more affordable for the poor families that often populate rural areas.
Of course, Vermont Telephone Co. doesn't know if it will be able to keep up the $35 price in the long run, but it's an experiment. That's exactly what we need though. Experiments can soon lead to national examples.