Schadenfreude: Comcast vs Google Fiber


Schadenfreude –  pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This word is taken from German and literally means “harm-joy”. It is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune.

There are lots of reasons why I’m excited about Google Fiber, but seeing the discomfort and misfortune of Comcast (along with Time Warner, Cox, AT&T, and other ISPs that have de-facto monopolies in their areas) certainly has risen much higher on the list of late.

Recently, a Reddit user who lives in Atlanta (u/TheBen91) posted this picture of a card he received in the mail:

comcast vs google fiber

How Comcast sees the world.

To begin with, let me say that some of these may be true. I will admit that I don’t know the amount of On-Demand content that the Google Fiber cable package includes, and I don’t believe Google Fiber has any (current) capacity to watch DVR’d content on the go (although with Google’s investment in Android, I can’t help but wonder how far off that is).

Additionally, while the current Google TV box also doesn’t have voice control it does use Bluetooth rather than IR – meaning that you don’t have to have line-of-site (or even be in the same room) to use the remote. This – to me – is much more useful than talking to your remote (and is also one of my favorite features about my Roku 3).

The WiFi Claim – What it Means and What it Doesn’t

It’s the WiFi claims that really annoy me for a couple of reasons. The first is in the small print at the bottom of the card:

WiFi claim based on September and November 2014 studies by Allion Test Labs, Inc.

A link to that Allion Test Labs study can be found right here, and while it does indeed show that the Comcast Wifi router was the fastest, the test included two Comcast routers, an AT&T router, and a Verizon router. No Google Fiber-provided model in sight. That being said, the Comcast router that won featured the 802.11ac band (which allows speeds up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band plus up to 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz.) while the older Google Fiber routers  used 802.11n (speeds up to 300 Mbps). It is worth noting that the 2nd generation of Google Fiber routers do include 802.11ac, so the “fastest” claim made by Comcast may not even be currently correct.

The second reason that this annoys me is the fairly obvious misrepresentation this makes (in the mind of non-tech enthusiasts, at least) between “WiFi speed” and “ISP speed”. Taking a look at Comcast’s own Xfinity internet plans for Atlanta, Georgia, most of these options don’t come close to the maximum theoretical speed of 802.11ac (or even 802.11n) and so while the extra WiFi speed is useful if you are doing file sharing in your home, if you are watching Netflix, downloading large files, or playing online games, that extra speed does you no good. Think of trying to pour a 10-gallon bucket of water into a test tube – all the water that doesn’t make it into the test tube is wasted! Perhaps the one exception to this unnecessary bandwidth is Comcast’s 2Gbps fiber plan – starting at a measly $300 per month…with a $500 installation fee, $500 activation fee, 2 year contract, and an early termination fee.

Contrast that plan with  the Google Fiber internet plan page for Atlanta. Yes, does have fewer options than Comcast, but you’ll notice that all three packages have no installation fee (with a 1-year commitment), include 1 TB of Google Drive storage (basically like Dropbox), and the rates shown are not “introductory offers” they are the actual rate. All this plus the fact that the 1 Gbps plan costs less than Comcast’s introductory rate for 150 Mbps, and is even $10 less than the non-introductory price of the 75 Mbps plan! Oh yeah, Google Fiber also doesn’t have a 300 GB data cap – Comcast, on the other hand, charges you $35 per month if you want to actually get full use out of that fast connection you pay for!

Google Fiber in Louisville

On a personal note, apparently Google Fiber is making good progress in getting underway in Louisville, with the cities’ Metro Council voting unanimously to allow Google (and other high-speed carriers) access to city-owned utility poles. This would make the running of the fiber much easier and faster, without the need to bury the fiber. Of course, both Time Warner and AT&T (the two other ISP choices we have in Louisville) have already started opposing the measure, citing “the best interest of both customers and broadband providers”, so Louisville is still a ways away from getting quality internet at reasonable rates.


About Colin Dorman

Colin is a freelance horn player and teacher, as well as a fan of tech of all sorts, aviation, and increasingly complex flight simulators. He also enjoys beer, bourbon and fitness - but not at the same time. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as right here at ColinDorman.com!