A planned Google fiber expansion has been halted and the broadband access provider will reduce its headcount, as it evaluates how and if it will bring ultra-broadband services to additional markets. The move has been rumored for a few months and was confirmed by Craig Barratt, SVP, Alphabet and CEO of Access, who will be leaving the company.
The competitive realities and significant expense of overbuilding markets with FTTP has apparently caught up with Google fiber. There are eight “potential” markets where Google fiber will suspend their expansion plans for now. They include Dallas; Jacksonville, FL; Los Angeles; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Portland, OR; San Jose; and Tampa. Google fiber is currently operational in nine markets, and is building in an additional four, which will continue for now.
Google fiber will lay off approximately 9% of their work force in the process, according to some reports.
“Now, just as any competitive business must, we have to continue not only to grow, but also stay ahead of the curve — pushing the boundaries of technology, business, and policy — to remain a leader in delivering superfast Internet,” said Barrat in a blog post. “We have refined our plan going forward to achieve these objectives.”
Those refinements will certainly include relying more on fixed wireless to deliver broadband, both in their current markets, and in any future markets they may decide to enter. Fixed wireless can be applied to overbuild parts of a market for a fraction of the cost of building FTTP.
Google fiber recently closed on an acquisition of fixed wireless provider Webpass, who will certainly play a part in future deployments.
Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google fiber was a recent keynote speaker at a WISPA convention, citing the promise of fixed wireless.
Google fiber Impact
Google fiber deserves a lot of credit for energizing the gigabit broadband market. Since their launch in Kansas City five years ago, several major carriers have ramped up gigabit deployments including AT&T, Comcast, Cox, and CenturyLink. Some of these launches have been in direct competition with Google fiber.
Indeed, the broadband access market has changed dramatically in the last five years, with gigabit broadband momentum accelerating. Much of that momentum can be traced to Google fiber’s expansion and competitive reaction to it.
The next phase for Google fiber will shift to fixed wireless, and you have to wonder if that move will have a similar impact, energizing a new wave of fixed wireless service for ultra-broadband applications.