Three months ago, Dennis Kish, the Vice President of Google Fiber, announced that Google was planning to bring its superfast fiber optic network to 18 new cities in four major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham.
"Just last week during the State of the Union, the President called for faster networks so that innovators and entrepreneurs can build the next big idea," Kish said at the time. "New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth. Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we’re going to keep doing our part to help."
One way in which Google Fiber is clearly helping is by inspiring its competitors to improve their broadband speeds. On Thursday, Time Warner Cable announced that it is converting its network in Charlotte to an all-digital network dubbed "TWC Maxx."
A Free Speed Upgrade
"With 'TWC Maxx,' we're essentially reinventing the TWC experience," said Darrel Hegar, regional vice president of operations, Time Warner Cable. "We will boost Internet speeds for customers up to six times faster, add to our robust TWC Wi-Fi, dramatically improve the TV product and set a high bar in our industry for differentiated, exceptional customer service."
By converting to an all-digital network, Time Warner will be offering its Charlotte customers a full lineup of HD channels. Since digital HD channels take up less bandwidth than analog signals, Time Warner can use the freed-up space to improve its Internet connection speeds. Customers will receive the speed upgrades at no additional cost.
The speed increase will depend on a customer's current package. For instance, someone connecting at 15 Mbps will see a speed increase to 50 Mbps. Those connecting at the Extreme level (currently 30 Mbps) will jump to 200 Mbps, while Ultimate consumers will go from 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps. (Those are download speeds; upload speeds are generally slower.) By comparison, Google Fiber offers 1,000 Mbps downloads and uploads.
The Value of Competition
The announcement from Time Warner shows just how quickly the company followed Google's announcement, even though Google Fiber is not actually operational in Charlotte yet. While work has begun on the fiber optic system, Google has not yet said when the high-speed service will be available.
Time Warner is not the only company to take preemptive action to minimize the economic impact of Google's competing service. Comcast recently announced that it will offer 2,000 Mbps service to a limited number of customers in the Atlanta area, although there are some questions about where and when that service will be available.
In those areas where Google Fiber and AT&T are both operating Internet service networks, AT&T has dropped the price of its highest-speed offering to $70, to match Google's price. However, in those areas where AT&T has a monopoly, the cost is $110 per month.
Posted: 2015-04-14 @ 9:05pm PT
"Market" is a very narrow set of circumstances worth fostering and protecting. The $40 per month pocketed by AT&T in areas where it has a monopoly are burned. The $40 per month saved by consumers in areas where it has competition are plugged back into the economy.
Posted: 2015-04-14 @ 2:44pm PT
Shocker - competition is good for consumers. Someone should tell Congress.