Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Google Fiber Launching in Nashville

Google Fiber is launching symmetrical 1 Gbps in Nashville. By itself, the launch might not “move the needle” on the number of U.S. consumers buying, or able to buy, gigabit or other high-speed access in the hundreds of megabits per second range.

But it is hard to argue that Google Fiber has failed to change the market, even if competitors sometimes say, with an apparently straight face, that Google Fiber has not affected their thinking at all.

It is hard to argue that Comcast and other firms would be rapidly upgrading their high speed access services to gigabit levels had Google Fiber not entered the market.

On the other hand, it often goes unnoticed that Comcast also has increased Internet speeds for residential customers 16 times in the last 14 years, at rates equivalent to Moore’s Law, Comcast has said.

Comcast, for example, now plans to upgrade 100 percent of its access connections to 1 Gbps, with some 85 percent of locations able to order a 2-Gbps service as well.

There also is a possibly-noteworthy change. In the past, we generally have argued about fiber to the home as a way of enabling high bandwidth for consumers.

These days, the more-relevant issue is how to supply gigabit access, or hundreds of megabits per second of access, rather than physical media.

In the United Kingdom, for example, Virgin Media will use both fiber-to-home and hybrid fiber coax access platforms, supplying identical services and speeds for all customers, no matter which access platform is used.

What now increasingly matters is the level of service consumers can buy, the prices and terms of use that apply to each consumer offer, not necessarily the access medium. That is likely to be even more true once 5G mobile networks are activated.

What you can do, and what you can use, will matter much more than access platform.

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