on broadband competition in Austin

In theory, Google Fiber is coming to Austin with their 1 Gbps internet for $70/mo. We’ll see if they come where I’m living, but in the meantime everyone else has started to retaliate.

AT&T announced they were going to roll out gigabit internet to their existing U-Verse customers, i.e., their non-DSL customers. Sadly, for whatever reason, my house is just outside the zone where you can get that.

Grande, which is our local, independent ISP, is actually deploying gigabit access now. Everyone should have a local, independent ISP. I had Grande at the house we rented and it was amazing, but sadly, they don’t serve my new house.

So, despite all of this jockeying, it’s not until Time Warner Cable jumps into the fray that it looks like I have any concrete reason to think I’ll get better internet access. It seems like they’re just going to admit they’ve been stingy assholes the last 10 years and actually give us 3x to 10x faster internet at the same price by the fall.

While I’m glad that it seems like Google Fiber is shaking things up in Austin, I’m really dubious that it’s a good idea in the long run. First, it seems like it’s not shaking anything up outside of the few places they’re actually rolling it out. Second, for Google Fiber to come, the city has to agree to waive any regulations about having to serve both rich and poor neighborhoods and give Google Fiber free access to all of the utility poles. The result of that is that in Austin, AT&T—and I think Grande and TWC—have managed to negotiate the same deals essentially eliminating a bunch of the good regulation we actually got.

It’s interesting to follow, I’m glad it seems like I’m going to get 100 Mbps down by 10 Mbps up soon, but I’m not sure what it means long-term for US broadband.

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