Talented Sharks and Fast Fibre

San Jose’s Fine Few Weeks

For those located on the West Coast, specifically in San Jose, there have been some good reasons to celebrate during the past few years. The local Golden State Warriors team from Oakland took the NBA championship last year and the San Francisco Giants won the baseball World Series in 2014. Now celebratory occasions are getting closer to home as the San Jose Sharks are playing in the National Hockey League championship series for a chance to bring the Stanley Cup to the neighbourhood.

It’s not easy getting so far for any professional sports team. Competition is always fierce and fans can be fickle.

There might soon be more reasons for San Jose to celebrate as a victory of sorts might be near. It took years, but Alphabet’s fibre-based Internet service Google Fibre looks like it could finally be heading this way. There have been years of planning and discussions with local officials, but according to The Mercury News, San Jose officials are expected to approve Alphabet’s plan to build out the network in San Jose. Victory isn’t certain, but it feels like things have reached the finals.

Google Fibre’s Web site states that the company is still “exploring bringing Fibre to San Jose”, meaning the red tape isn’t quite complete. Nothing will be certain until later in summer 2016, but Google Fibre’s plan is already working, stirring competition into action. Just the thought of Google Fibre’s 1 Gbps service is inspirational.

AT&T recently introduced its GigaPower Internet service to San Jose with speeds of 1 Gbps for $70 per month, to compete with Comcast’s Xfinity XI Gigabit Pro 2 Gbps service for $300 per month.

AT&T’s $70 pricing matches Google Fibre pricing, and AT&T also has a hidden cost in the way of personal data. The $70 price is for households who agree to have their Internet usage tracked. Those who choose to opt out have to pay another $29 per month. Detailed statistics about usage behaviour have become a new kind of currency, though Google Fibre’s privacy policy says nothing about usage tracking, beyond what Google does as part of its own services. It appears that at the $70 entry price, AT&T is doing more tracking than Google, which is not what most people would expect.

Google Fibre is now available in five US cities, and in some of those cases only to a few select locations. Google Fibre could be coming to another 17 cities in the country.

Using a classic hockey metaphor, it looks like in some of these cities, the incumbent operators are making the wise move of skating to where the puck will be rather than where it is now, challenging Google Fibre before the roll-out commitments are formalized. But for the Alphabet conglomerate, this works just fine. The more gigabits that get consumed, the more room there will be for ads and for connected accessories to monitor the home.

The entry of the San Jose Sharks team into the Stanley Cup finals has been a long time coming (they are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins). Google Fibre may also come with time for most households in the city. The excitement is growing.