Seeing little competition and questionable demand, Internet service providers have shrugged at spending the billions of dollars needed to boost U.S. Internet speeds to match other parts of the world. But efforts by Google Inc. and a few cities including Los Angeles are provoking an about-face. In recent weeks, Time Warner Cable and AT&T Inc. have eagerly responded that they too are capable of delivering lightning-fast speeds in Los Angeles and other big, lucrative markets. Though analysts see more posturing than certainty in the announcements, it's clear that online video watchers, technology start-ups and financial companies might see a dramatic upgrade in Internet speeds by the end of the decade. "Regardless of what Google ends up doing, what they've successfully done is introduce the idea of gigabit broadband and ask the relevant question of why more of America doesn't have it," said analyst Jeff Heynen at consulting firm Infonetics Research. "We're at the point where the threat of competition has prompted a lot of me-too responses," Heynen said.
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