AT&T hasn’t made it easy for Google Fiber to simply roll in to cities across the country and provide gigabit internet speeds to residents. In fact, AT&T has done its best to stomp out any competition — including from municipal broadband — that could pose a threat to its business. It could be said that when it comes to broadband access, lobbying dollars doled out to prevent competition is cheaper than expanding high-speed internet access to customers.
With this in mind, we have a framework for AT&T’s latest blog posting, which starts off giving us a brief history of Google Fiber before devolving into a surprising -- for AT&T -- mocking and braggart tone of the company’s stumbles. In the blog, entitled “Broadband Investment: Not for the faint of heart”, AT&T points to Google Fiber’s failed 2008 bid in the 700 MHz Upper C Block auction and its stalled efforts to “blanket the country with broadband white spaces devices.”
AT&T even addresses Google Fiber’s troubles in Nashville (which is in part a result of AT&T’s actions), and the company’s decision to instead resort to wireless technology for last-mile connections to homes and businesses to cut costs and speed up deployments. According to AT&T, the moral of the story is, “Building reliable, ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity is tough.
“It takes an enormous commitment of capital and resources and a highly-skilled and capable work force.”
AT&T continues to beat its chest, stating that it has been in the business for over 140 years, and that it has the resources and political might to navigate treacherous broadband waters. But the telecom company didn’t stop there. It ramped up the rhetoric even further, stating, “Google Fiber will no doubt continue its broadband experiments, while coming up with excuses for its shortcomings and learning curves. It will also no doubt continue to seek favoritism from government at every level.
Those comments seem quite puzzling considering the lobbying that AT&T and rivals like Comcast carry out to ensure that there is little to no competition in major cities across the United States. But AT&T saves its sharpest and most biting criticism for last, writing:
Yet, Google Fiber still complains it’s too hard…and costs too much…and takes too long… even as it’s reported that Google Fiber will now try to do all this with half its current workforce. Meanwhile, without excuses or finger-pointing, and without presenting ultimatums to cities in exchange for service, AT&T continues to deploy fiber and to connect our customers to broadband services in communities across the country. Welcome to the broadband network business, Google Fiber. We’ll be watching your next move from our rear view mirror. Oh, and pardon our dust.
Do we smell a hint of T-Mobile’s John Legere in that paragraph? Whatever the case, AT&T definitely smells blood in the water, and with Google Fiber recently axing half of its staff, things aren’t looking good for the long-term prospects of the service. AT&T is right that building out a nationwide fiber network is tough, but it would be a bit easier with a level playing field for all potential competitors.