Two Things You Can Get in Kansas City: Super Steaks and Super Broadband

May 28, 2014
Google is picking its spots: It is highly unlikely that the company really wants to go into the broadband business across the country. It is far ...
Google is picking its spots: It is highly unlikely that the company really wants to go into the broadband business across the country. It is far more sensible for Google Fiber to be just active enough to goad cable operators and telcos into building networks speedy enough to support the dizzying array of businesses they offer.

Google’s national aspirations don’t matter if you live in Kansas City, Austin or any of the other cities in which Google Fiber has set up shop. Kansas City was the first of the cities. Now, a bit more than three years later, it is clear that the strategy is working: You can get two things in KC: A good steak and very high speed broadband.

But even more telecommunications services are coming. Last week, Cisco announced that it is working with Kansas City to build out a city network and is developing a “living lab” under its Cisco Smart+Connected Communities program. The press release says the effort will complement an initiative to build out telecom services in a two-mile downtown path.

Meanwhile, Google Fiber is doing pretty well, according to The Wall Street Journal. The post reported upon a door-to-door survey commissioned by Bernstein Research and conducted by Haynes and Co. The results were positive, according to The Journal:

Haynes surveyed 328 households in the Wornall Homestead, Countryside, Roanoke, Central Hyde Park and Community College neighborhoods, and found that 42% of them said they were paying for Google Fiber, according to the analysts.

The post said Carlos Kirjner and Peter Paskhaver, the Bernstein analysts who commissioned the survey, think the numbers suggest that “markets with similar deployment economics would be very profitable to Google.”

AT&T also is in the mix. Last month, the carrier said it is upgrading as many as 100 cities - including 21 new major metropolitan areas - with its 1 Gbps GigaPower service. Kansas City is one of the existing markets that is being upgraded. Though DSL Reports’ Karl Bode has a bit of fun poking holes in the announcement, the fact remains that AT&T execs think it is important to at least look like it is upgrading the city.

So what does this mean to the cable industry in general and incumbent Time Warner Cable specifically? Plenty. Kansas City is by all accounts a typical American city. All this activity - and, at least in the case of Google, the high level of success - makes it clear that competition indeed is healthy.

Kansas City, as the Google Fiber target, may be a harbinger of the future: A city with multiple wired providers vying for subscribers who, over time, begin to consider 1 Gbps services the norm. The message to incumbent operators is clearer than ever: They must work as hard - perhaps even harder - than the insurgents.

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