Friday, April 26, 2013

The Force Of Fiber: Google Fiber Is Pressuring Rivals To Up Their Game

Google’s ultra-high-speed Google Fiber Internet service won’t be accessible to most Americans for quite some time, but the revolutionary service’s impact is already being felt even by those who don’t subscribe to the service. As noted by MIT’s Technology Review blog, Akamai’s annual state of the Internet report was released recently and it does a great job of highlighting Google Fiber’s ripple effect.

Akamai’s data shows that in the fourth quarter of 2012, average Internet speeds in Kansas climbed faster than any other state in America. Average speeds in the midwestern state grew by 86% compared to Q4 2011.

The next closest state was Wyoming, which saw average Internet service speeds climb 51% year-over-year in the fourth quarter.

“It could be the case that the other incumbent providers were going, ‘Oh, crap, we stand to potentially lose subscribers to this deal with Google if we don’t provide competitive service,’ ” said Akamai’s David Belson. First introduced last year, Google Fiber is currently available in Kansas City, Kansas as well as Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.

While Technology Review notes that there is no public data that paints a complete picture of Google Fiber’s impact on rivals in the Kansas City area, Akamai isn’t the only firm suggesting this is the case. Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law professor Susan Crawford said her research shows a clear impact.

“I see Time Warner Cable in and around Kansas City acting like a bulldog with a bone,” Crawford said. “They want to make sure they hang onto subscribers, not lose them.” Following Google Fiber’s launch in the region, Time Warner boosted its Turbo service by 33% to 20Mbps and its fastest available Internet service speeds doubled to 100Mbps.

As Google Fiber expands to new markets offering free low-speed Internet service, gigabit Internet for just $70 per month or gigabit Internet bundled with TV service for $120 per month, rivals will have no choice but to make their offerings more competitive.

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