The future of Google Fiber has been in question for about 6 months. In August of last year, the company began the process of scaling down their operations, followed nearly immediately by pausing new rollouts entirely in October. This week, Alphabet is transitioning hundreds of employees from Access, the division responsible for Google Fiber, to other areas within the company.
Nothing signals a major restructure like moving employees out of a division. The idea of fiber-to-the-door was always an expensive and unrealistic one. The cost of petitioning access to easements from cities is enough for most companies, essentially wiping out an existing telecom from the market. Once the backbone is in-place, it is also expensive to run the fiber from the pipe to the premises and then convert existing internal infrastructure, all for internet speeds that nearly no one actually needs.
The question is, then, "What is going to happen with the brand?" As I have predicted before, the future for Access is wireless rather than fiber. The company purchased Webpass in 2016, and will use their existing technology and infrastructure to continue their high speed internet access roll-out. Combined with Google's balloon-based internet service concept, they could potentially cover an entire city with internet quicker, easier and less expensive than laying cables.
This will require that Access gain more wireless spectrum to make this possible. It also, currently, requires whole buildings to convert to the network, as Webpass will not install their antennas and hardware on a single-tenant property. Unless that changes, people who live in houses will still not be able to switch, and neither will people within buildings who are unwilling to convert entirely. Without an operational change, the whole business model and consumer target for Access will change dramatically, though not entirely negatively.
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