Google Fiber East? Time Warner Cable plots major fiber expansion

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) will provide an East Coast counterpoint--at least for commercial customers--to the vaunted Kansas City-based Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Fiber network by spending $25 million to expand its fiber networks in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island this year.

The expansion could boost Internet speeds as much as 20 times to a gigabit for a growing list of small business customers in the Big Apple and its environs.

The decision to expand its systems in New York makes sense. The commercial market opportunity is huge with a ton of potential small business customers with high-speed broadband demands. And, of course, it's the company's hometown and showcase system. What makes it a bit juicier is that Time Warner Cable is the incumbent cable operator in Kansas City, so the service has a front-row seat to how that effort performs.

TWC CEO Glenn Britt indicated during a second-quarter earnings call that he sees the Google Fiber effort as a "kind of a laboratory" for what higher speeds can bring.

"I think there's a bunch of not-for-profits working on the same thing and I think that's good for our business," Britt said in a Q&A with analysts. "The more the people figure out how to use broadband, the better off we are going to be. So I think this is a good thing, not a bad thing, that people are trying to figure out how to use this technology."

Google, it should be noted, makes its service available to both residential and commercial customers; TWC will focus on businesses with a gigabit fiber optic network that it is expanding "much more aggressively than we ever have before," said Ken Fitzpatrick, president of business services for TWC's East region in an interview with BusinessWeek. The provider, he said, is "positioning New York City as a much more tech-savvy place to work."

TWC's New York City presence continues to expand. The company recently covered all small businesses in the Empire State Building and is snaking its network to other locations in Midtown, The Flatiron area and the Financial District.

Overall, TWC's commercial offerings reach about 450,000 small business customers and account for about 8.6 percent of TWC's total sales.

For more:
- see this story
- and read this earnings call transcript

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Google Fiber to expand outside Kansas City