AT&T has penned a blog post making fun of Google Fiber’s rumored struggles, while mocking the ISP for unfairly seeking out “favoritism from government at every level.”
Rumors have been flying that Google Fiber is looking to trim its workforce by half as it pauses several unofficial cities to take a closer look at wireless broadband alternatives. Sources familiar with Google Fiber say many of these reports have been overblown or incorrect, though the company is trying to make operations more efficient while taking stock of wireless alternatives after its acquisition of wireless broadband provider Webpass.
AT&T’s blog post makes light of a decade of Google Fiber experiments in broadband, and how the company doesn’t have all that much to show for it.
And so far that’s certainly true. Despite ample hype and five years of construction, Google Fiber remains little more than a blip on a radar outside of its early core markets of Kansas City and Austin. And reports have suggested the company’s subscriber totals have disappointed both the company and those hoping for additional broadband competition.
As such, AT&T apparently believes it’s good time to mock a competitor many consumers still like significantly more than AT&T.
“Google Fiber will no doubt continue its broadband experiments, while coming up with excuses for its shortcomings and learning curves,” says AT&T’s Joan Marsh. “It will also no doubt continue to seek favoritism from government at every level.”
“Just last week Google Fiber threatened the Nashville City Council that it would stop its fiber build if an ordinance Google Fiber drafted wasn’t passed,” Marsh added. “Instead of playing by the same rules as everyone else building infrastructure, Google Fiber demands special treatment and indeed in some places is getting it, unfairly.”
If you’re familiar with AT&T’s often vicious legal and political attempts to do everything in its power to derail potential competition, AT&T’s lecture on level playing fields may ring a bit hollow. This is, after all, a company that has lobbied for more than a dozen state-level laws that protect the company from market evolution and real competition, often using tactics like burying poison pills in unrelated traffic laws. Delaying competitor access to utility poles is just one of many tricks in AT&T’s generation-old playbook for keeping broadband noncompetitive.
Google Fiber is looking to pass new utility pole attachment rules in several cities that would dramatically speed up broadband deployment, and has consistently accused companies like AT&T of using the pole attachment process to hinder would-be competitors. AT&T has sued the city of Louisville for trying to reform the process.
“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,” Marsh said.
Well, except for those times in both 2010 and 2014 when AT&T falsely claimed it was freezing all fiber to the home deployment because it didn’t like the FCC’s net neutrality rules, right?
Meanwhile, AT&T’s own gigabit fiber deployment isn’t any less theatrical than Google Fiber. AT&T has become a master at what we affectionately refer to as “fiber to the press release,” or launching fiber in a tiny part of a market (often a single housing development where fiber was already in the ground), then having its PR department pretend the deployment is notably larger than it actually is. This over-hyped, under-delivered gigabit network is being pushed as AT&T actively cuts its overall fixed broadband budget and hangs up on unwanted DSL users.
AT&T has also begun imposing caps on most of its remaining broadband customer base to take advantage of the lack of competition AT&T’s lobbyists help create. And in the last three years AT&T has been sued or fined for ripping off taxpayer-funded programs to aid low-income families, ripping off the hearing impaired, helping crammers actively falsely overbill its customers, and turning a blind cheek as drug dealers run scam directory assistance services.
Google Fiber may very well be realizing that building out fiber networks is more difficult than anticipated, but AT&T is the very last company that should be lecturing anybody on fair play, level playing fields, government favoritism and integrity. AT&T should stick to what it does best (lobbying) and leave mocking underwhelming ISP promises and behavior to the professionals.