Late last week AT&T announced that it would be holding off on its expansion of gigabit broadband service pending guidance from the FCC about whether broadband might be recognized as a utility under Title II. The news followed the release of a tortured proposed plan from the FCC about how to classify broadband that would create a hybrid model almost surely destined to be decided in the courts. Then, President Obama announced his support for recognizing net neutrality.
AT&T said they plan to pause the expansion of their gigabit service, despite an $18 billion dollar expansion plan that was seeing new cities announced on an almost weekly basis. The move looks a lot like Verizon’s threats to sue over the proposed FCC plan without a trip to court. Regulatory uncertainty is a common excuse among non-competitive industries to avoid production. Yet, when it comes to services like gigabit internet, the incumbents may be making a lot of noise for nothing.
Sources familiar with Google Fiber say the company has no immediate plans to change its deployment schedule.
Other smaller providers are also lining up to offer the service. Companies you’ve likely never heard of like Sliver Star Communications in Wyoming and Grande Communications in Austin, Texas have both outlined plans for expansion in the last two days. Midcontinent Communications is working to expand services in the Dakotas and Minnesota. The expansion announced by Grande represents the third service area expansion for the company. Prices start at around $65 per month.
While the big companies are lobbying, little companies are getting to work and gaining customers. It’s almost like they didn’t get the memo about not doing capitalism anymore.