The Consumerist has an interesting story about this, and other similar stories seem to be popping up. Google Fiber is a new fiber optic Internet service, along with cable TV, that Google is building, with it’s first test cases in Missouri and Kansas. Google is offering multiple tiers of service, including a free level. It sounds rather amazing. And it seems that suddenly Time Warner Cable has found it in its heart to drop its prices significantly in the areas where Google Fiber is operating. Imagine that.
As it stands today, Americans pay outrageously high prices for Internet services, yet they still receive low quality. Overseas the competition is much greater, as is the internet speed — and our prices are MUCH lower than what you pay in the states for less service.
Thanks to plenty of friends in Washington, DC, American Internet Service Providers (ISPs, aka the Comcasts of the world) have mostly been able to get away with this lousy deal for consumers, but this may be changing. Unfortunately, Google Fiber is only present in Kansas City today, so the reports of pricing and quality are only there. Secondly, Google Fiber itself is pretty darned expensive.
As I’ve mentioned before, in “socialist” France we have numerous options all around €30 per month, that include high speed internet (including fiber optic, which I have), phone calls around the world at no additional charge and more TV channels than most will ever watch. Other countries in Europe have similar 3-pack deals and Asia reportedly has even better internet connectivity.
As much as the US is the center of the world for many things including leading internet companies, the people of the US are being ripped off with the internet services. (It’s not unlike pharmaceutical prices, which are much more expensive in the US than everywhere else.)
Will Google Fiber drive prices down as some have experienced? Maybe. But the US still needs a lot more competition in more places to break the market apart from the stranglehold of a few players.
More from The Consumerist on one customer’s experience in an area where Time Warner Cable now has to compete with Google Fiber:
I’m a Time Warner cable internet subscriber in the KC area, and I got two(!) good pieces of news from them recently.
No. 1. A few weeks ago, they emailed me to tell me that my “Basic Rate” internet service was being upgraded by 50% from 10Mbps to 15Mbps, effective at the next restart of my cable modem. I haven’t tested this — that only occurred to me in retrospect — but it sounds great.
No. 2. My latest cable bill was ~30% lower than the previous month. $29.99 vs. $44.94, for a savings — by their calculation — “of $23.96 this month.” My calculation is slightly different, I get a savings of $14.95, but lower is better. The line item has the note: “Enjoy your savings of $23.96 by subscribing to this package. (Offer expires 11/29/2014)” It doesn’t say anything about me having to do anything to get this rate, and the “package” they mention is the one I assumed I was using already. But the bill says $29.99, so that’s what I’m putting on the check.
Surprise, surprise. Funny thing, that free market. When there actually is real competition, the thing actually works.