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Few ISPs offer high broadband speeds; Google's Title II cost benefit

In telecom news, a report found little competition among ISPs at higher broadband speeds, and Google discusses potential cost benefits with Title II reclassification.

This week in telecom news, a report from the U.S. Commerce Department found that competition among Internet service providers (ISPs) decreases as broadband speeds increase. Meanwhile, Google discussed the cost benefits of reclassifying broadband Internet under Title II in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

T-Mobile CEO John Legere revealed the mobile carrier's New Year's resolution to create more attractive offerings and expand its network to become the No. 3 carrier in the U.S.

Little ISP competition at higher broadband speeds

Competition among ISPs is almost nonexistent at broadband speeds above 10 Mbps, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department.

The report found that at broadband speeds of 3 Mbps, 98% of U.S. residents had a choice of at least two mobile ISPs and 88% of residents had a choice of two or more fixed ISPs. The report noted that 3 Mbps can quickly become inadequate when multiple members of a household stream video, music and online games.

At the 10 Mbps level, however, the average American can choose between two fixed ISPs and three mobile ISPs. But only 37% of residents had a choice of two or more fixed ISPs at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater. Mobile ISPs at the 25 Mbps level are virtually nonexistent, according to the report.

Only 3% of U.S. residents have access to 1 Gbps broadband speeds, and no residents had two or more providers offering services at those speeds.

Google finds Title II cost benefit

Google has indicated it may support reclassifying broadband as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act in a filing with the FCC.

In the filing, Director of Communications Law Austin C. Schlick said reclassification under Title II would give broadband providers "nondiscriminatory access to utility poles and other essential infrastructure."

This access to public utility infrastructure could be seen as a cost savings benefit. Telecom and cable providers have access to infrastructure owned by public utilities at what Schlick called "appropriate" fees. But broadband providers sometimes have to pay additional deployment costs to access the same infrastructure.

"Timely and affordable access to available utility infrastructure is essential for rapid, widespread broadband deployment," Schlick wrote. While Schlick did not explicitly ask the FCC to reclassify broadband, the filing can be seen as an indication that Google supports reclassification, according to Telecompetitor.

T-Mobile makes mobile New Year's resolutions

T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced the mobile carrier's New Year's resolutions to strengthen its competition against its wireless rivals.

In a blog post, Legere discussed what he called "un-carrier" moves by T-Mobile, including rolling over unused data and no annual service contract, which focus on potential customers who don't own smartphones or have broadband Internet.

T-Mobile will continue to expand its network coverage to better compete with rivals Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. Beginning this year, T-Mobile will expand its network by deploying LTE over 5 GHz Wi-Fi spectrum.

Legere called out T-Mobile's competitors as "bumbling along" into 2015 with misleading advertising and squeezing money out of customers. Between T-Mobile's expansion efforts and rivals' missteps, Legere said T-Mobile will become one of the top three wireless carriers in the U.S. this year.

"This summer, I said we'd blow by Sprint by the end of 2014 to become the No. 3 wireless company in the U.S.," Legere said. "Until we get the final score after we both report Q4 earnings, but whether it is now -- or soon -- I'm telling you, it's a done deal!"

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