Instead, perhaps it was an attempt by Google to change the industry by 1) scaring the incumbents into improving, and 2) expanding consumers' Overton windows regarding what they could/should expect.
Google presumably wants to ensure its services can be delivered to consumers, so this would seem towards that end. As another commenter notes, Google also has deep pockets. Creating & operating a whole company as a PR 'stunt' doesn't seem beyond the realms of reasonable probability.
PS: I think a similar argument can be made for Tesla. I don't think it is a given that Musk intends for Tesla's success to be an economic one.
Edit: made last sentence less strong.
I won't comment on any possible changes in the last couple years or why they may have happened, except to say that to the best of my knowledge, at no point was the sentiment, "We've shifted the industry enough that we can stop pretending to want to succeed."
Incumbents tried their hardest to prevent Google from hanging new wires. Many of the laws in-place today make it difficult for new companies to hang wires, which I believe was a reaction from the telegraph days.
Also, pointing to a couple of lawsuits ignores the fact that Google got huge concessions everywhere else. It got waivers from build-out requirements (obligations to cover whole cities, instead of "fiberhoods" with sufficient demand), fast-track permitting, free use of municipal land for fiber huts, etc: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/how-kansas-city-....
I think Google rightfully gets the benefit of goodwill that say AT&T does not. But it's a real triumph of narrative over facts to suggest that Google Fiber didn't have the red carpet rolled out for it in nearly every Fiber city.
(Incidentally, a team of four guys with heavy equipment have spent the last three hours trenching fiber 50 feet through my tiny yard. That's the second visit, and there will be one more, and that's not counting running the fiber down the main road which required months of permitting and surveying. I strongly suspect that's why Google pulled out of Fiber.)
Exactly -- AT&T thinks it's their infrastructure, but it's not. It's ours.
 The same is true for power lines. They're mostly privately owned. The power utilities are subject to various regulations (rate regulation, etc.) but the wires were built with private money and are private property. In contrast, most water/sewer lines are owned by the municipality, and paid for by the public through taxes and hook-up fees for new construction.
This is not and has not ever been true.
Here  is an open auction with ~$2 billion in federal aid attached - "a total of $1.98 billion for 10 years." This was last updated just over a week ago. I would dig further back for other subsidies, but it is not necessary. Through tax breaks and subsidies we (the government, tax payers, etc) have certainly aided infrastructure build out for telecom cos.
There was some tax dollar funded subsidies in the ARRA, but it's a vanishingly small fraction of the trillion+ dollars invested in telecom infrastructure in the last few decades.
Is this one of the taxes that they just throw straight onto my monthly bill?
Two, AT&T is paying the tax, but the government is mostly kicking the subsidies back to small rural telcos and coops. Telcos with more urban footprints, like AT&T, subsidize telcos in high cost rural areas.
So calling CAF a subsidy to AT&T really makes no sense. It’s like saying Apple would love the government to slap a 5% tax on iPhones and kick the money to providers of low cost phones. Even if Apple could increase prices to compensate, and get some of those subsidies for the iPhone SE, it’d still be worse off than without the “subsidy.”
The FCC doesn’t disclose USF contributions by company, but you can guess: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-303886A3.p.... Total reported telecom revenue is about $300 billion per year during that period. AT&T averaged $120 billion per year in revenue during that period (about 40% of the industry). (This is probably an overestimate because AT&T’s revenue includes non-telecom revenue.)
During that period, USF revenues were $7-8 billion per year. 40% of that is like $3 billion. Even if I’m wrong about AT&T’s revenue share by a factor of 4 AT&T still pays in much more than it gets out.
Also, it's likely eminent domain attempts for Google's benefit would run afoul of the law. I don't think the government can eminent domain something for the benefit of another corporation.
Do you live northwest of Austin, where 18 inches below the surface there is about two feet of solid limestone?
I'm all for having a set of processes and procedures in place, especially for an entity as large as ATT, but even by the standards of telecos their internal workings are a Franz Kafka nightmare.
I wouldn't be surprised if this was a huge factor. Everyone likes to blame regulation for fibre failures, but the "last mile" of fiber to the premise, like many wired broadband technologies before it, is often a nightmare.
Reminds me of this story, where one Norwegian ISP started asking customers to dig their own trench:
^ entirely predictable
Google won't save us any more than Musk will. It's billionaires launching cars into space and fighting for personal wealth at the detriment of the rest of the society.
Can you help me understand the ire over that launch?
It's standard that new rockets are tested with a dummy payload to avoid destroying something valuable. Typically that's steel plates, but the Falcon Heavy was going to go up with a useless payload regardless. Saturn I-IV did the same, and V only had a payload because it was a module test and a launch test rolled into one.
I suppose the Tesla took up some extra man-hours fitting the car for launch, and the rocket wasn't aimed somewhere it would be destroyed (though I can't tell whether they usually are).
But seeing this spun as "SpaceX won't save us, they're just shooting cars into space!" is baffling to me; it was some personal wealth spent on adding spectacle to a totally normal rocket launch.
Now who would not want a new private American company to succeed in revitalizing the industry and increasing competition. Hmm, I can think of a few.
It used to be "NASA is a bloated waste of tax payer money let private Enterprise in."
And now the same people who said that, have been convinced that private industry is stealing.
This part doesn't match my experience?
"NASA is a waste" is, broadly, a conservative/Republican stance. Almost everyone I've seen outraged about the Tesla launch was noticeably left of the average Democrat. I don't think a narrative of "they hated the public version, now they hate the private version" holds up for the people I've seen.
Granted, there's a second group on the left who hated NASA before and SpaceX now. But that narrative is usually "space exploration is a waste when people are going hungry", with not much concern about public/private status.
It's definitely now also a Far Left talking point. Larry Wilmore basically went back to the old 60's, "Why is there poverty, and we're putting men on the moon?" There's a scene somewhere where he's telling Bill Nye to STFU about his Science. This brings to mind Phillip DeFranco's t-shirt about substituting feelings for facts.
I would entertain an argument that Google Fiber hasn't actually helped society very much but I have a hard time buying that it's been harmful... At worst, it's driven the other players in the regions it's in to offer more bandwidth for less money. At best, it headed off rising a trend of ISPs deceiving the public about what was possible in an effort to suppress speeds and tightly meter bandwidth...
All of that money came from somewhere. Do you wonder why most of your local retailers went out of business, and you can't visit a local bookstore or camera shop anymore? It's related to why Jeff Bezos has so much money that he has nothing better to do than shoot stuff into space. Preferably, he will shoot bigger stuff farther than Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or Paul Allen.
It could also be used somewhere else. Is shooting suicidal volunteers at Mars really the best use of billions of dollars?
Solving difficult engineering problems is usually good for the world.
Adam Smith directly says vanity is what took down feudalism. We surely dont want our billionaires to not even spend the money they have!
Printing money and setting it on fire would employ printers and firefighters. I'm not sure Billionaire Space Wars are a net harm to society, but they're pretty silly.
Apparently, "Don't be Evil" doesn't cover internal company politics.
I remember at a previous job, there was this hefty trans-atlantic data link the company was leasing. All the VPs coveted it, so the political machinations basically resulted in no-one using it, ever, all the while we were paying not-insignificant funds for it.
You conveniently ignored Musk almost went bankrupt after 3 failures initially at space x.
I don't doubt you, but I would definitely expect that sort of messaging even if the true primary goal for GF was to be disruptive, as opposed to profitable.
FWIW, if I were aware of other plausible explanations for the way Fiber has progressed, Occam's Razor would compel me to believe those explanations versus defaulting to cynicism.
Google makes no money if they can't show ads to people, and at the time Comcast and friends controlled Google's access to a majority of US audiences that Google's customers (advertisers) wanted their ads in front of. Advertising in the US was more than half of Google's revenue then. Comcast had the only network nationally capable of reliably delivering video and video ads, which was prioritized for growth within Google around then.
I think there was a real fear within Google about the leverage Comcast and other national ISP's had over them. TLS wasn't common, and advertisers weren't nearly as interested in mobile audiences in 2010: wireless data use was a fraction of what it is now. A well-capitalized Comcast without the regulatory restrictions of AT&T or Verizon could create existential trouble for Google if they really wanted to. Google Fiber could have been Google's way of showing they'd be willing to play hardball if it came to that. Any positive PR that came from it was a great bonus, but they almost certainly never made money from Google Fiber.
I'm really, really hoping that changes drastically in the next decade. It would be really nice if Google started making the majority of their money from compute cloud offerings (a little out there, but that sector is growing much faster than their general business). I think it's essential if Google's ever going to gain some independence from the perverse incentives they've set themselves up for, and I think that's essential for Google (and society in general) as we move forward.
I'm not sure what to do with Facebook. I don't see people paying for that. Then again, with the amount of time people spend glued to Facebook, they could probably make a tidy business offloading general computing tasks to their users through JS. The concept has been brought up before, generally in the discussion of blockchain mining through websites, but at Facebook's scale and usage it's an entirely different story. I imagine Facebook could have the largest weather supercomputer in the world (by many factors) next week if they really wanted to.
I wonder if Facebook has a department whose job it is to look into developing more parallelizable algorithms for common workloads...
I think it is though, but probably not in the automotive industry; ATM it still has a lead, just like Apple had for a while on the smartphone market, but I think it'll be passed left and right by the competition.
But by then, Tesla won't be (primarily) a car company anymore, but a battery company, a solar power company (= energy company), and a company with the largest recharge station network in the country. Selling energy and charge stations will be the next generation's oil industry, and Tesla's taking charge there.
I’ve been a happy Verizon FIOS customer for 12 years. For $140 per month I have TV with every pay channel, landline phone and gigabit Internet. The gigabit is relatively recent but I get full gigabit speeds for up and down and it is amazing. I think you’re right that I don’t believe Verizon would’ve offered this at this price without the threat of Google and other competitors.
the trick seems to be to cancel and sign up again for the new user deals.
I believe gigabit is $70 a month stand alone from Verizon.
I strongly suspect 5G is instead causing renewed interest in fiber deployment. Comcast wants to get in on a cellular/wifi hybrid service, and for that it needs backhaul.
What did Musk tell investors?
For example: For some people being 'a liar' is one of the worst things imaginable, but to others it is perfectly fine. The former judge the latter as being immoral monsters, the latter think the former are rather sweet (and are perhaps also glad the former exist?).
Regarding deception of one's self: some people feel there is an absolute truth that can be known, whereas others may choose their reality and belief systems to fit their needs in any given moment.
I'm describing opposite ends of two spectrums here, rather than categories.
I think people make assumptions about where Musk is on those spectrums.
New nit: two spectra.
This doesn't mean that Tesla didn't need to be an economic success. It does mean that economic success wasn't the only criterion, or as highly ranked as it is for a non-impact company with non-impact investors.
I think the last one is a particularly good business because even though the US military has understood that cost reduction is job #1 for the use of space, the conventional cost plus model of developing rockets and then building and launch them can put stuff in orbit but cannot do cost reduction.
I wonder if a lot of that ended up being used for GCP datacenter connections?