Time Warner Cable remains the dominant provider of pay TV and Internet service in Kansas City.
Ever since Google Inc. said it is bringing ultrafast Internet connections to the market -- and left strong hints it will bundle the service with television packages -- Time Warner has publicly acted nonchalant.
Yet this week, blogs, beginning with GigaOM, took notice that internally the cable guys aren't quite so chilled. Rather, posters directed at Time Warner employees in Kansas City seek information on the new player in town.
"Share tips, rumors and rumblings about Google construction or launch activity," the poster states. It says "multiple tips are encouraged" and notes the company is rewarding employees with three $50 gift cards weekly for sharing leads.
The posters "are hanging in our offices," Time Warner spokeswoman Marci Pelzer confirmed Thursday. "This is a competitive industry. Kansas City is a hypercompetitive market."
Indeed, in addition to the availability of satellite services, the cable company competes with SureWest Communications in some neighborhoods. In recent years it has seen AT&T's U-verse service pose a significant challenge.
Now comes Google, announcing more than a year ago that it will build a network of high-capacity fiberoptic wires running all the way to customers' homes. And it promised Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That would deliver downloads about 100 times quicker than the national norm and uploads 1,000 times faster than the U.S. average.
Since that decision, however, Google has given almost no details of what it will offer, when it will arrive or which neighborhoods will get it first. It has said the cost will be comparable to what most consumers pay now for Internet access.
Meanwhile, various patent filings and license applications suggest strongly that the Internet service will be paired with a TV package -- something analysts say will be critical to luring folks away from their familiar cable and telecom bundles.
A spokeswoman for the California-based tech titan declined to comment for this article.
Google has been consistently coy about its plans. It has twice missed publicly announced schedules for starting its service. Most recently it has only promised a "major announcement" this summer. That has left a void. And Time Warner Cable wants to know more about what's coming.
"We're looking for construction activity," Pelzer said. "We want our employees to be alert. ... We would be doing this with any other new competitor."
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