AT&T to Google Fiber: ‘We’ll be watching your next move from our rear view mirror’

AT&T said its "Gigapower" fiber network will be available in more than 50 metro areas.

In a fiery post to the company’s website, AT&T’s Joan Marsh blasted Google as largely failing to offer widespread broadband services to Americans, and reiterated criticisms that Google has benefited from loosened regulations for network buildouts. Marsh also argued that, as Google has floundered in its efforts to build broadband networks, AT&T has made significant strides.

“Between 2011 and 2015, while Google Fiber was cutting its teeth on fiber, AT&T invested over $140B in its network, building to over one million route miles of fiber globally and deploying ultra-high-speed fiber-fed GigaPower broadband services, reaching over a hundred cities,” wrote Marsh, AT&T’s Vice President of Federal Regulatory, on the company’s website. “Along the way, AT&T spent over $13B with minority, women and disabled veteran-owned suppliers in 2015 alone.”

Google representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on AT&T’s proposal.

Marsh’s post is AT&T’s clearest stab yet at Google’s efforts to deploy broadband services. The post also comes at a critical time for Google, which reportedly has paused its Google Fiber buildouts as it looks at potentially less expensive wireless options.

The Information also recently reported that CEO Larry Page has ordered Fiber to cut its staff size in half, from 1,000 employees to about 500. The publication noted that Google executives initially hoped to sign up 5 million broadband subscribers within five years, but by the end of 2014, only about 200,000 subs were on the books.

In her post, Marsh wasted no time pointing out Google Fiber’s recent troubles. “Google Fiber has deployed a fiber network in parts of seven out of the 1100 interested cities, but otherwise hits the pause button as Google Fiber learns something we’ve known for over a hundred years – deploying communications networks is hard and takes an enormous amount of time, money and skilled labor.”

Marsh also pointed to some of Google’s other efforts in the telecommunications space, including its work to place “open access” conditions on some of the FCC’s 700 MHz spectrum during the agency’s 2008 auction, as well as Google’s hopes for widespread use of TV white spaces spectrum.

“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,” Marsh wrote.

Of course, public-interest groups and others have cheered Google’s various telecom efforts, including Google Fiber, as ways of injecting competition into areas largely dominated by entrenched incumbents.

For more:
- see this AT&T post

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