The Google Fiber Effect Inspires Builds Plannned for Los Angeles, Other Cities

If Google Fiber’s true intention is to prod other ISPs into 1 Gigabit-per-second upgrades and excite cities into pursuing advanced municipal broadband networks, then the events of the last week served as proof of the company’s success in wielding the pointy stick.

The speed goals and demand-based deployment process have almost become a sideshow as the mere idea of 1-Gig and the recent influx of municipal fiber projects morph into a giant political hot potato. Comcast, for example, was reported to have splashed cash to help defeat Seattle mayor Mike McGinn, who has been advocating for a big municipal fiber deployment in the city managed by Gigabit Squared. Comcast denied to The Washington Post that its political contributions had any link to Mc- Ginn’s broadband policies.

Further south, the broadband nuttiness is reaching new heights. Los Angeles, according to the Ars Technica website, reportedly plans to issue a request for proposals next month that will look to weave fiber to every home, business and government within the city limits; offer free Internet access of 2 Megabits per second to 5 Mbps and paid tiers up to 1 Gig; and tuck it all under a Wi-Fi canopy covering the City of Angels.

The expected price tag of the project: $3 billion to $5 billion. No word yet if Los Angeles-area incumbents AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon Communications, Cox Communications or Charter Communications expect to throw their hat and cash into the ring.

Still, some analysts see a lot more of this sort of thing on the horizon. The services planned in L.A. and in other U.S. markets “are direct consequences of the deployment of Google Fiber” in Kansas City; its network upgrade and service rollout in Provo, Utah; and the buildout set for mid-2014 in Austin, Texas, according to Carlos Kirjner, senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein

In Austin, AT&T will tangle with Google Fiber using “U-verse GigaPower,” an all-fiber network and service platform that will eventually hit speeds of 1 Gbps. Select areas reaching “tens of thousands of customer locations” will get it beginning next month.

In Mississippi, C Spire is gearing up for 1 Gig, announcing last week the nine cities that will be fi rst in line for its bundle of new fiber-fed services starting in mid-2014. The standalone 1-Gig service will sell for $80 per month, with bundled customers getting a $10 discount.

Similar to Google Fiber’s process, AT&T and C Spire will use a demand-based system to determine which parts of town will get services first.

In fact, in comments to The Wire, a C Spire spokesman called the locations “fiberhoods” — a term coined by Google Fiber.

Google Fiber may not take over the world, but its ideas just might.

Even FCC Confirmees Must Serve Jury Duty When D.C. Pool Calls

New Federal Communications Commission chairman and former National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Tom Wheeler said last week in his opening address to the FCC troops, as it were, that he had “all kinds of interesting relationships with his colleagues” for which he was grateful.

But one of them was a non-relationship. Wheeler told FCC staffers last week that he sat in a jury pool in D.C. while awaiting confirmation. But it was only afterward that he found out he had been sitting in front of fellow nominee-in-waiting Michael O’Rielly.

“It wasn’t just that we got called into the same group, the cast of thousands,” Wheeler told The Wire. “We were in the same courtroom, and I didn’t know it was him.”

Apparently O’Rielly was not similarly unaware. “We had breakfast a week later, and [O’Rielly said], ‘I sat behind you in the jury room.’”

Wheeler said he didn’t know why the commissioner did not identify himself at the time, but a source familiar with the non-meeting said O’Rielly was not actually close enough to chat up the chairman during their pooled experience.

Wheeler said that while both were eventually interviewed for the jury — for a medical malpractice case — neither was chosen.

Wheeler’s swearing- in last week had a Tinker to Evers to Chance quality about it. As acting chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn could swear in new commissioners — chairmen are also commissioners — so she swore in Wheeler. Once Wheeler was chairman, he then swore in O’Rielly.

Because O’Rielly isn’t chairman, he didn’t get to swear in anyone.

— John Eggerton

‘Thank You’ to Vets Re-airs on INSP After Video Receives Honor

Inspiration Networks will re-air a veterans-themed original short video today, Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11), after it received a prestigious honor from a national veterans group.

The video, Thank You for Your Service, was honored this past September by The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration for its poignant portrayal of a Vietnam vet being honored by a grateful public for his service to the country.

The 2:30 video first debuted on the network in May 2012 as part of the short-form inspirational video series Moments, celebrating love, faith and valor in action through scripted, documentary, narrative and interview features. The video airs Monday at 2:14 p.m. (ET), during Little House on the Prairie.

During the commemoration ceremony in Arlington, Va., INSP received an official commemoration flag and certificate signed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey in recognition of the video, which has also received more than 900,000 YouTube views over the past year.

INSP officials said the network has donated 1,000 specially designed Thank You for Your Service videos for distribution to veterans around the country.

In addition, INSP is currently in production on another veterans-themed series, Moments of Valor, in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

“Our goal has been to honor our veterans,” INSP chairman and CEO David Cerullo said. “We are so gratified for the way this video has touched so many lives.”

— R. Thomas Umstead