Sunday, September 4, 2016

It Doesn't Matter Whether Google Fiber is Available to Most U.S. Households

It has been argued that Google Fiber would never be available to most U.S. households. Those predictions might turn out to be correct. And yet, it might not matter.

The real question is whether  gigabit Internet access will be made available to most U.S. households.

And the answer to that question is “yes.”

U.S. cable TV companies--even if Google Fiber kicked off the gigabit upgrade movement--already are the primary suppliers of gigabit connections in the U.S. market.

Comcast, the largest U.S. Internet access provider, is upgrading all its consumer locations to gigabit speeds, and makes available a symmetrical 2 Gbps service available to about 85 percent of its locations.

AT&T now touts the extensiveness of its own gigabit access service, and bigger changes are coming, as the 5G standard calls for gigabit speeds.
Independent gigabit suppliers operate as well, but cannot serve most potential U.S. customers because their networks are local and targeted.

The big change will come when 5G is commercialized, making gigabit available to most locations and potential consumers, though perhaps not always as a direct substitute for fixed connections.

The big issue for 5G platforms is whether mobile or fixed wireless offers will be close enough to wired access offers to be effective substitutes.

That noted, as many as 100 million gigabit customers might be connected by 2020. Some might note that this is not the most important headline number. As already is the case, marketing of gigabit offers also stimulates sales of services operating at lower speeds (100 Mbps to 300 Mbps, for example), often representing speed upgrades.

It no longer matters--if it ever did--whether Google Fiber is available to most U.S. households.

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