Despite Gigabit Hype, U.S. Broadband’s Actually Getting Less Competitive Than Ever

by Karl Bode

Despite government programs, national broadband plans, billions in subsidies and a lot of recent hype paid to gigabit services like Google Fiber, U.S. broadband is actually getting less competitive than ever before across a huge swath of the country. Companies like AT&T and Verizon have beenbacking away from unwanted DSL networks they simply don’t want to upgrade. In some cases this involves selling these assets to smaller telcos (who take on so much debt they can’t upgrade them either), but in many markets this involves actively trying to drive customers away via either rate hikes or outright neglect.

As an end result, the nation’s biggest cable companies are enjoying a larger monopoly in many markets than ever before as they hoover up those fleeing customers. According to the latest postmortem of 2015 subscriber totals, the seventeen largest broadband providers acquired 3.1 million broadband subscribers last year. But if you look at the numbers more closely, you’ll notice that nearly all of them were acquired by the cable industry: Continue reading

AT&T sues City of Louisville over Google Fiber pole attachment rules

Stephen Hardy
English: Telephone pole, Westwood

English: Telephone pole, Westwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As one of the communities Google Fiber has selected for potential provision of its gigabit fiber to the home (FTTH) services (see “Google Fiber sets FTTH sights on three new cities”), Louisville officials had passed unanimously a “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance that would enable Google Fiber and other broadband services providers in the future to access city utility poles and attach the necessary hardware to provide services themselves. AT&T owns between 25% and 40% of those poles, the Courier-Journal reports, and the ordinance potentially would allow its competitors to move AT&T’s equipment on the pole to make room for the new infrastructure. Continue reading

All Residents Need A Broadband Choice

English: The Penmynydd high-speed broadband tr...

English: The Penmynydd high-speed broadband transmission mast viewed from the churchyard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that Internet access speeds are increasing on average, there are still almost 40% of Americans without broadband service. I know this because my parents live just a few minutes out of a state capital and do not have any access to any wired broadband service. There is no easy answer to this solution because serving these rural areas is expensive.

Building the last-mile infrastructure is the most costly part of the build. Carriers are challenged to be profitable building out rural areas even if they had a 100% market share. This is why the Universal Service Fund was created. Instead of all customers subsidizing rural communities, local governments and carriers should be allowed to form a public/private partnership to build an open-access last-mile fiber infrastructure. All carriers could then utilize this infrastructure to provide competitive communications services to potential customers no different than in densely packed urban areas. This method is fairer to all parties and does not put taxpayers at as much risk. Continue reading

FCC Chair: 39% Of Rural America Lacks Broadband Access

By

If you live in the city, it’s almost a certainty that your property can get high-speed Internet access from at least one company. But for rural America, it’s a different story, with nearly 4-in-10 people lacking access to fixed-line broadband service.

This is according to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, who will issue his latest annual Broadband Progress Report later this month. Continue reading

High-speed Internet access impacts home sales

By CHLOÉ MORRISON

Locally and nationally, consumers are opting not to buy homes if they don’t have access to high-speed Internet. 

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the topic, and Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors President Travis Close said that residents in rural areas value high-speed Internet access just as much as people who live in city centers.

But access isn’t always available. There are still unincorporated areas of Hamilton County with limited Internet access.  Continue reading

Google Fiber Eyes Its Two Largest-Ever Targets: Los Angeles and Chicago

Alphabet Inc. is making its biggest bet yet on spreading connectivity across the U.S., through its newly independent fiber business.

By ALISTAIR BARR

Alphabet Inc.GOOGL -0.93% is making its biggest bet yet on spreading connectivity across the U.S., through its newly independent fiber business.

Google Fiber, Alphabet’s fast Internet service, said Tuesdayit is planning to come to Los Angeles and Chicago, the second and third-largest U.S. cities by population, if they pass a long review.

“While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to bring Fiber to Chicago and L.A., this is a big step for these cities and their leaders,” Jill Szuchmacher, director of Google Fiber’s expansion efforts, wrote in a blog. “Expansion planning for a project of this size is a huge undertaking.” Continue reading

Study finds EPB fiber optics generates over $865 million in benefits for Chattanooga

by Dave Flessner
EPB

EPB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study suggests that EPB‘s fiber optics has helped generate at least 2,800 new jobs and added $865.3 million to the local economy by cutting power outages, improving Internet links and attracting businesses to the “Gig City.”

The study by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Economist Bento Lobo found that since its introduction six years ago today, EPB’s smart grid and first-in-the-nation citywide gigabit Internet service has helped local education, health care, business, arts and culture and municipal services. The smart grid is estimated to have avoided 124.7 million customer minutes of interruptions by better detection of power faults and better methods of rerouting power to restore service more quickly than in the past. Continue reading