AT&T attacks Google "excuses for shortcomings" in fibre rollout

02 September 2016 | James Pearce


AT&T has taken a swipe at Google, heaping derision on the tech giant’s rollout of its own Google Fiber infrastructure, and claiming building broadband infrastructure is “tough”.

In a blog post titled “Broadband Investment: Not for the Faint of Heart”, the US operator claims Google has come up with “excuses for its shortcomings and learning curves” while seeking “favouritism from government at every level.”

In the post, AT&T sets out a timeline of Google’s push in to infrastructure, starting with the search-engine firm’s 2007 commitment to bid $4.6 billion in the 700MHz spectrum auction. Ultimately, Google didn’t invest in that auction.

It also alleges that a number of claims and promises Google made, such as offering “WiFi on steroids” using 600MHz white spaces, compared with today. AT&T claims, for example, that fewer than 1,000 white space devices are in the database.

Google announced its Google Fiber project in February 2010, aiming to serve around five million subscribers within five years. It received responses from 1,100 cities, but so far Google has deployed a fibre network in just seven of those. Last week, it launched Google Fiber in Salt Lake City, Utah.

AT&T VP of federal regulatory, Joan Marsh, who the blog is credited to, concluded: “Building reliable, ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity is tough. It takes an enormous commitment of capital and resources and a highly-skilled and capable work force. Yet AT&T has been at it for over 140 years. Between 2011 and 2015, while Google Fiber was cutting its teeth on fibre, AT&T invested over $140 billion in its network.

“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 to do all this with half its current workforce.

"Without presenting ultimatums to cities in exchange for service, AT&T continues to deploy fibre 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.”

It is not the first time the two US giants have clashed. They have several ongoing legal disputes over access to utility poles.