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AT&T pointlessly attacks Google over fibre

The cat aggression

After Google shifted its focus from fibre to wireless following a tricky time of things, AT&T couldn’t resist taking a juvenile swipe at the OTT-come-telecoms provider.

In what could turn out to be a bit of a PR own goal, AT&T’s Joan Marsh (VP of Federal Regulation), felt the need to release a blog post slamming Google’s ambition, while emphasising its own expertise in everything and anything to do with comms.

The blog post took the form of a timeline effectively saying “Google did this… well, that didn’t work”. It began by saying Google’s early interest in joining the wireless game ended abruptly once it realised the level of investment required, while good ole wireless carriers shouldered the cost of spectrum for LTE rollout back in the late 2000s.

Marsh then said Google plans for whitespace spectrum fell by the wayside with a then-and-now comparison.

“April 2008: …Google announces plans to have American consumers from Manhattan to North Dakota surfing the Web at gigabits-per-second speeds on new devices that will be available by the 2009 Holiday Season.

“Today: There are less than 1,000 white space devices in the white space database and no real measure of broadband white space service. Google’s plans to blanket the country with broadband white spaces devices appear to be on hold,” she wrote.

She then went on to slam Google Fiber, the FTTH project which has allegedly seen its workforce halved. The AT&T exec couldn’t help but take evident glee from the fact Google Fibre hasn’t quite hit the heights it had earlier hoped for. Foreseeing an obviously impartial future scenario for Google Fibre, Marsh wrote:

“The Future? Google Fiber discovers that wireless networks are expensive to build as well and learns that microwave broadband may work well in dense urban areas, particularly where supported by higher cost commercial services, but offers tougher economics when trying to service residential customers.”

The digs kept coming. Marsh went on to accuse Google of endless complaining and lobbying city authorities – a practice that’s obviously below AT&T. She accused Google of demanding special treatment, and getting unfair benefit from those in charge, while AT&T has to travail its way through the unbalanced telecoms landscape.

“Yet, 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 and 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 continued 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. Oh, and pardon our dust.”

AT&T would do well to remember that its position in the broadband market has been established as part of a 130-year history, with plenty of toil of its own along the way.

Google adopts a progressive fail-fast approach to all of its new ventures, and to criticise it so heavily in what are relatively early is a pretty clear indication the “Old Bell” is threatened. It should probably also bear in mind that extensive third party research showed AT&T’s wireless broadband isn’t exactly blazing a trail; with its more immediate rivals stealing a march on coverage, speed, latency and reliability.

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