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Google Fiber: Killer Rabbit or Tiny Bunny?

15 Mar, 2015

This past week, telecom analyst Craig Moffett took on the issue of Google’s constantly hyped optical fiber service, Google Fiber. Moffett wrote a note to investors, a note which was passed on to a few bloggers. What they in turn revealed was perhaps the dimensions of the nation’s most over-publicized service.

“To Cable & Satellite investors,” Moffett wrote, “Google Fiber is a bit like Ebola: very scary and something to be taken seriously. But the numbers are very small, it gets more press attention than it deserves, and it ultimately doesn't pose much of a risk (here in the US at least).”

How small is Google’s US footprint? Well, bigger than a four-year old ballerina’s, but not much bigger. Moffett dug around in the US Copyright Office whose compulsory license fee requirements track video subscribers. So, the totals are just those who buy the viewer bundle from Google – not those who just buy broadband, which would increase the number “meaningfully higher.” But it still wouldn’t more than double them.

And the grand Google total at the end of 2014? Fewer than 30,000 video subscribers nationwide, with two-thirds of them in the the Kansas City metro – where Google Fiber started.

To put that in perspective, last year Verizon reported 5.3 million FiOS TV subscribers and 6.2 million FiOS Internet subscribers. In other words, there are undoubtedly more FiOS subscribers in one New York neighborhood than Google has in the world.

Google Fiber Ended 2014 With 29,867 TV Subs: Report (Multichannel News, Mar. 12, 2015)
 
Craig Moffett: Google Fiber Overhyped, 'A Bit Like Ebola' (DSL Report, Mar. 12, 2015)
 
Verizon sees FiOS TV and Internet subscriber growth slow – again – in Q1 (Videomind, Apr. 24, 2014)

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