Charter Communications has fired a shot across the bow of Google Fiber in Kansas City, a market the cable company recently entered when it acquired incumbent MSO Time Warner Cable.
Charter is running ads in Kansas City newspapers this month, with the banner headline (featured in the same multicolored type as Google’s logo) reading “Abandoned by Google.” In its ads, the cable company lays out Google Fiber’s chronological history in the region, the narrative focused on the service’s alleged unfulfilled promises. (The photo of this Charter ad comes courtesy of the Kansas City Star.)
Kansas City was the first market Google Fiber moved into back in 2012, disrupting a sleepy telecom market with notoriously bad feelings for its indigenous pay-TV and broadband services. Today, 88% of customers for the still-nascent service reside in the Kansas City area.
And now that Google Fiber has fired its CEO, laid off staff and paused on any new buildouts—including extending its fiber-optic service to Kansas City customers left out of the initial deployment—competitors like Charter are taking aim.
This is not an endeavor without risks, as Comcast discovered in November 2015 when it took shots at Google Fiber in a Facebook ad, only to have angry customers advise the cable company to get its customer service problems under control before taking shots at competitors.
For its part, Charter purchased a TWC system with a poor service reputation in the region—an impetus that spurred interest in Google Fiber in the first place.
Charter has rebranded that local TWC service under its Spectrum banner. But to date, it has not yet upgraded internet speeds in the area to at least 100 Mbps.