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AT&T executive calls out Google Fiber — ‘Pardon our dust’

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AT&T took off its linesman’s workgloves this week and took a swipe at Google Fiber. The 140-year-old telecommunications giant cast Google Fiber as a complainer that “demands special treatment” in Broadband Investment: Not for the Faint of Heart, a post on AT&T’s Public Policy Blog.

Joan Marsh, AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory, chronicled Google’s interest and efforts in broadband internet from July 2007 to the present day. In the same post, AT&T is presented as a stalwart, socially conscious enterprise. According to Marsh, “for over 140 years” AT&T has shouldered the financial and resource burdens that are currently supporting the construction of broadband connectivity

The AT&T post criticizes Google for not living up to financial commitments to FCC frequency auctions in 2008. Google’s 2008 proposal for “white space” 600 MHz gigabit internet connectivity across the country by 2009, is portrayed as a nearly non-existent, on-hold failure.

Regarding the Google Fiber plans, Marsh recounts the company announcement in 2010 to serve 5 million subscribers in 5 years and response from 1,100 cities that wished to become Google Fiber Cities. Google Fiber today is in 7 cities and is currently in pause mode “as Google Fiber learns something we’ve known for over a hundred years – deploying communications networks is hard and takes an enormous amount of time, money, and skilled labor.”

Moving to the present, the AT&T diatribe mentions Google Fiber’s acquisition of high-speed wireless company Webpass. The blog post predicts Google Fiber will discover the economics of deploying wireless broadband will be tough for residential customers.

According to Marsh, “Building reliable, ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity is tough … Google Fiber will no doubt continue its broadband experiments, while coming up with excuses for its shortcomings and learning curves. It will also no doubt continue to seek favoritism from government at every level … 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.”

In her final message, directed to Google Fiber, Marsh wrote, “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.”

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