I should state up front that the headline above is my own, and not indicative of the way CNET is reporting on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts’ statements about Google Fiber at last week’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C. And yet, for me, it’s hard not to read Roberts’ chest-pumping “We too!” bravado as anything but the early signs of fear. At the Cable Show, during the Comcast CEO’s demostration of a 3Gbps cable connection, he said:
“I hope there’s a demand for (Google Fiber),” he said during a keynote session at the Cable Show. “The more customers crave speed, the more the kids in the garage and the geniuses around the world can invent applications that require speed. That’s the best thing that can happen to our industry. We have to embrace that competition.”
And yes, I know I’m reading way into this, but I can’t help but interpret that as, “Crap, we have competition.”
Another way to read it is as, “The more customers crave that kind of speed, the more we can change them for it.”
Cynical much? Perhaps, but as the piece points out, Comcast is currently charging between $59 and $75 per month for a 50Mbps connection, $115 per month for a 105Mbps connection, and “a hefty $320 a month” for a 305Mbps service, compared to the $70 per month that Google Fiber is charging for a 1,000Mbps internet pipeline.
The story — and the Comcast CEO — of course make excuses for why Google is able to offer its pipeline so cheaply, most of which revolve around its very limited distribution. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that Google Fiber, which started off as an interesting experiment, is already starting to spread into markets dominated by Comcast. Markets like Austin, TX.
Austin is also served by Time Warner, another company that has interesting relations with Google Fiber, mostly in the fact that many Time Warner-owned channels — TNT, HBO, etc. — aren’t available took quite some time to appear on Google’s TV service, nor is as did Disney’s ESPN. Most interesting, though, is that when Google Fiber hit Kansas City, Warner dropped its prices (and when’s the last time you heard of a cable provider dropping prices?), not to mention the fact that it countered Google Fiber’s Austin expansion with… free Wi-Fi?
Whether or not Google Fiber is ever able to expand to cover a significant slice of U.S. residents remains to be seen, but it’s interesting that, even with the service only available in two markets, with two more on the way, the big boys like Comcast and Time Warner are already starting to puff up their fur and growl.