This increasingly matters as HD movies and TV becomes more mainstream. Right now, Netflix alone consumes one-third of all the download bandwidth in the U.S. at peak times.
Hollywood and other movies-on-demand services had better get busy offering compelling services. More than half the upload bandwidth in the U.S. is consumed by BitTorrent.
I think the minority of providers who figure out how to offer vastly higher speeds at very low cost will survive, and the Time Warners will get out of the ISP business for good.
No, AT&T didn't announce gigabit fiber in Austin
Hours after Google announced that Austin would get the Google Fiber treatment, AT&T (which is headquartered in Dallas) announced that it would build a gigabit fiber network of its own in Austin.
Or, at least that's what the news reports would have you believe. But if you look at the press release, it was really a passive-aggressive bit of whining about Google getting special treatment from Austin authorities.
Instead of announcing a plan to build fiber optic connectivity in Austin, AT&T actually announced that "it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin," according to the announcement press release.
"Prepared to build" does not mean "plans to build."
Then the whining began: AT&T's plans "anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives."
The release ended with this zinger: "Our potential capital investment will depend on the extent we can reach satisfactory agreements."
In other words, the whole reason for AT&T's press release was not to announce the intention to build fiber optic gigabit Internet connectivity, but instead to complain about preferential treatment of Google by local authorities.
AT&T has a point. Local, state and government regulations and restrictions are a big part of why our Internet speeds are so slow. And that's yet another reason why Google Fiber is so brilliant.
Google is simply smarter than AT&T
Rather than approaching individual cities and begging them for permission to lay fiber, Google held a big contest and said, in effect: "OK, we're going to pick a city to gain a massive economic boost. You want it? What are you going to do for us?"
Then they started choosing from among the 1,100 applicant cities based on which ones were most serious about making Google Fiber possible.