Recommendations for VoIP provider over Google Fiber? [telecom]

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Bob Goudreau

Feb 8, 2015, 12:22:46 PM2/8/15
My town (Cary, NC) was among those recently selected by Google as part
of their expansion of Google Fiber to four new metro areas
(Raleigh-Durham, NC, Charlotte NC, Nashville and Atlanta). They have
not yet announced deployment schedule details, but I'm guessing that
it might be a couple of years before the fiber actually reaches my
neighborhood, based on their rollout pace in the three existing Google
Fiber markets (Kansas City, Austin and Provo, UT). Nevertheless, I
look forward to being able to ditch Time-Warner Cable eventually, so I
want to be prepared.

Google Fiber offers television service in addition to (gigabit!)
internet connectivity. What they do NOT offer is telephone service;
instead, they suggest that customers who want land-line service get it
through a VoIP provider or through a traditional ILEC -

Currently, we have a landline through TWC as part of our
internet/TV/phone bundle, and we've actually been pleased with that
phone service. Because it is offered by the network provider, it is
not merely VoIP (Voice over IP), but what one contributor to the
Digest has dubbed "Voice *using* IP". I.e., TWC controls the network,
so they can segregate a certain amount of bandwidth for exclusive use
by the phone service, thus guaranteeing a good Quality of Service for
voice traffic. Voice quality is great, and I can even fax

Third-party VoIP provider packets, in contrast, are intermixed with
(and competing against) other general internet traffic and are thus
more vulnerable to QoS problems. I'd like to hear from any current
customers who receive phone service over Google Fiber. What VoIP
providers do you recommend? Is your QoS good enough to support faxing?
Is the fiber service fast enough that QoS issues are basically moot
anyway? (I realize that 1 Gb/s is a tremendous amount of bandwidth,
but QoS depends more on latency.) All feedback on your experience
with telephone service over Google Fiber is most welcome.

Separately, another valued contributor to the Digest, Neal McLain, has
wondered about the economics of wired broadband service, specifically
whether it qualifies as a natural monopoly. My area was not a monopoly
even before the Google announcement, as TWC competes with AT&T
(formerly BellSouth, nee Southern Bell) and their U-verse service. But
I will note that between the time that Google announced about a year
ago that our area was a candidate for Google Fiber and the time they
announced we would indeed be getting it, both TWC and AT&T started
promising significant upgrades to their local offerings. In TWC's
case, this included upping broadband rates in existing service tiers
without increasing prices. AT&T has started rolling out "U-verse with
GigaPower", with speeds an order of magnitude faster than plain old
U-verse. It seems that there's nothing like a little competition, or
even the mere threat of it, to spur the incumbents to offer better
products and prices.

Bob Goudreau
Cary, NC

Garrett Wollman

Feb 8, 2015, 10:56:52 PM2/8/15
In article <000601d043bb$72ba9440$582fbcc0$>,
Bob Goudreau <> wrote:

>Separately, another valued contributor to the Digest, Neal McLain, has
>wondered about the economics of wired broadband service, specifically
>whether it qualifies as a natural monopoly.

This is actually a really interesting question, and I suspect the
answer may be "it depends on the circumstances". Dave Clark, who I
used to work for a long long time ago, has spent much of the last 20
years investigating questions like this because they have a
significant impact on what possible future network architectures are
actually feasible.

One operational definition of a natural monopoly is a geographically
distributed service in which, if you had unlimited competition, the
market-clearing price would be the same as the sellers' marginal cost
-- i.e., there would be no way to recoup capital investment. In large
parts of the country, this seems to be the case, which is why there
are so few overbuilders and the ones that do exist rely on bundling
more profitable (entertainment) services along with their
communications services. This suggests that overbuilding is, as Neal
suggests, a bit of a mug's game wherever the costs of physical
infrastructure are not extremely low (due to high density, public
ownership, low attachment fees, or some other form of piggybacking on
somebody else's cap-ex).

I don't think Google Fiber really changes this. Yes, they have piles
of money that they can plow into these buildouts -- in a few cities,
where their analysis has shown that economic conditions are already
favorable to them. But Google isn't actually interested in selling
low-cost Internet access: they're interested in building just enough
to entice other providers (primarily, the phone/cable duopoly) into
actually investing in their own networks -- which as you note their
buildout in your area has done -- on the assumption that once those
providers have been forced to roll out network improvements in one
area, they will find it difficult not to do so in other parts of their

Note that nobody, not Google nor any other provider is seriously
discussing building gigabit fiber connections in the vast parts of the
country where population density is so low they can't even support
"broadband" under the FCC's old definition.

Garrett A. Wollman | What intellectual phenomenon can be older, or more oft| repeated, than the story of a large research program
Opinions not shared by| that impaled itself upon a false central assumption
my employers. | accepted by all practitioners? - S.J. Gould, 1993
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