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Google Fiber is forcing its rivals into offering cheaper, faster service

When Google comes to town, it's bad news for its rivals but good news for consumers.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Google Fiber in Austin, TX
(Image: Google)

Good news for Charlotte, NC!

Google, the search engine you often go to during the day, has sufficiently scared your existing internet service enough into giving your faster speeds at no extra cost. It's the latest trend-setting move by the search giant, which aims to upend the rural internet-providing monopolies that are often the sole providers in one area.

And not by offering a better overall service. Just announcing its way into the market is enough.

Time Warner Cable announced last week it would launch its next-generation "Maxx" television and broadband service in the North Carolina city, hot on the heels of rivals Google Fiber and AT&T's Gigapower service arriving in town. That means hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses will now have internet speeds up to "six times faster" -- though, the catch is that speeds will depend entirely on the plan.

The cable giant said specifically that customers can receive a massive bump from 50 Mbps up to 300 Mbps on the Ultimate subscription, which will land later this summer -- albeit at an undetermined time -- at no additional cost.

And that's great for Time Warner Cable customers.

But the weird twist is that Google hasn't yet arrived in town. The search turned internet giant has begun work and will announce a switch-on date later this year.

In January, Google announced it would roll out to three cities in the Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham, NC area. With the intention of serving around three million people with speeds of up to 1 Gbps (which by the way is more than one-hundred times faster than the national average), Google wants to bring high-speed internet to the masses.

The announcement came after the Obama administration pledged to end laws that allow some rural internet providers to own monopolies in certain areas. (A number of readers have said prior to this piece that they can only get one internet provider where they live.)

Obama called for an end to laws in 19 states that prevent towns and cities from starting up their own high-speed internet services, while at the same time "protecting incumbent providers from competition." The president said these laws were written by interest groups and by lawyers representing major internet providers AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable, in order to block competition.

The plans are still in early stages, and the Federal Communications Commission has to sign off on them.

But Google's already there. The company -- an up and comer in the internet provider space -- is in a good position. It knows what the current market looks like. Price for price, Google threatens to offer three-times the highest tiered internet speeds of its rivals in the area for a significantly lower price -- even including the flat-rate construction cost.

The gap, however, between its announcement and rolling out its service, gives its rivals a grace period to catch up. And they have been. AT&T said in February that it will match Google Fiber speeds and prices in Kansas City and its suburbs, with the search giant's internet service squarely in its sights.

Expect big changes from the internet service spectrum in the coming months and years. The tides are shifting in favor of the powerful underdog -- and that's Google. Laws are all good and well, but what's keeping the competition on its toes is the company's own service, which it claims -- and so far as failed to show otherwise -- that it's doing it bigger and better than anyone else.

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