Google began their quest to bring Fiber Internet to one American city by tasking citizens to show their interest. It was far from a popular vote, however, as various government entities also promised various perks for Google to bring the service to their city. Kansas City won out in the end by promising Google a number of discounts or free services. Now the other ISPs want a piece of the government subsidy pie.
Before Google Fiber came to Kansas City, the citizens had two choices for Internet and TV – Time Warner Cable and AT&T. It was later revealed that at the very least Time Warner Cable was terrified of Google Fiber. The company was even trying to get people to spy on Google’s operations for them. Now that Google Fiber is there to stay, they’re trying to get the same deal that Google got.
So what did Google get that the incumbent ISPs did not? According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has been given free office space and free electricity to power their equipment. They also get a free ride to use any of the city’s assets and infrastructure to build out Fiber. Other perks include an entourage of city employees and discounts on government utility pole leases.
After all those perks, it’s obvious why Google chose Kansas City. It’s also obvious why Time Warner Cable and AT&T are seething with jealousy. They have been providing Internet to citizens of both Kansas Cities for quite some time now, but they never got any kick backs from the government. For once, I agree with them in that Google is being given an unfair advantage out of the gate.
They claim that they deserve the same kind of kickbacks. The only problem is that they aren’t doing anything to advance the speed of the Internet or offer better services to the people of Kansas City. According to the Wall Street Journal, Time Warner Cable is at least trying to improve their service in Kansas City, MO in return for a deal similar to Google’s. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be able to match Google’s promised speed of 1 Gbps without completely overhauling their infrastructure though.
For now, both Kansas Cities are open to providing kickbacks to Time Warner Cable and AT&T. The only things standing in the way of great benefits are the ISPs themselves. They claim that customers don’t want faster Internet, and that fiber is just a waste of money. Google has already proven that customers desire faster and cheaper Internet with almost 90 percent of all neighborhoods hitting their pre-registration goal.
If anything, other ISPs should start to realize that people want better and cheaper Internet. Google Fiber has never been about Google becoming an ISP. It’s about forcing the other ISPs to start taking the Internet seriously, and to stop screwing over customers. The only way to achieve that is to compete with them at their own game.