Confidence Wavers In Google Fiber As ISP Cancels Installs, Refuses To Explain Why

from the nothing-to-see-here dept

Late last year Google Fiber announced it would be pausing expansion into several new markets, axing its CEO, and shuffling a number of employees around. Reports subsequently emerged suggesting that Alphabet higher ups were growing frustrated with the high cost and slow pace of fiber deployment, and were contemplating an overall larger shift to wireless. While the company continues to insist that there's nothing to see here and that everything is continuing as normal, signs continue to emerge that the ground Google Fiber is built on may not be particularly sturdy.

This week numerous Kansas City residents say they were told that the company was cancelling their installations after waiting eighteen months for service. Users there are frustrated by Google's complete lack of explanation for the rash of cancellations:

"About April, May, I saw sometimes as many as four to five Fiber trucks in the neighborhood. I kept watching my email but never got anything in the mail to schedule my appointment or anything,” Muerer told 41 Action News.

That was back in October 2015.

Eighteen months later, Meurer still doesn’t have Google Fiber. He recently received an email saying the company had canceled his installation.

"I’m left wondering what is going on,” said Meurer.

Kansas City residents aren't alone. Portland was one of the cities Google Fiber was supposed to launch in, but locals there are similarly frustrated by Google's about face. Especially since the city had shuffled around city ordinances, laid the groundwork for the placement of Google Fiber "huts," and convinced state legislatures to pass a new state law providing notable tax incentives for Google Fiber. Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose, and Tampa were also in various states of contact with Google Fiber about potential builds that apparently will no longer be happening.

And while Google Fiber still exists, Google/Alphabet isn't helping restore confidence it the disruptive potential of the service. By and large the company continues to insist that everything is fine and there's nothing to see here despite ongoing evidence of cold feet at the executive level. Whenever press outlets inquire about last fall's decision, reporters are given a calorie-free rosy statement that tells people absolutely nothing substantive about what's going on. This statement, for example, is what I was given when I asked the company specifically why it was cancelling fiber installations in Kansas City:

"Google Fiber loves Kansas City and is here to stay. We’ve been grateful to be part of your community since 2011, and for the opportunity to provide superfast Internet to residents. We recently announced our expansion into Raymore, we are continuing to build in Overland Park, and we can’t wait for even more customers in Kansas City to experience what’s possible with Google Fiber."

Ars Technica received a similar non-answer from the company.

Granted Google's pivot to wireless could certainly work. The company is conducting wireless trials in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz millimeter wave bands, as well as the 3.5 GHz band, the 5.8 GHz band and the 24 GHz band. It seems fairly clear that Alphabet executives really don't know what they want to do just yet, but don't want to admit that to anybody. But confidence that Google Fiber would be the answer to solving the broadband mono/duopoly log jam is quickly wavering, something unaided by Google's bizarre refusal to be clear about the direction the project is headed.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:41pm

    Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

    https://www.techdirt.com/blog/netneutrality/articles/20151001/06351732404/isp-announces-blocking-all -facebook-google-ads-until-companies-pay-troll-toll.shtml

    "Billions" must be at least TWO, and using best possible March 2016 figures from Wikipedia for your view by adding TV subscribers to broadband subscribers:
    $2,000,000,000 / (68,750 + 453,000) = $3,833.25

    Therefore you must hold that Google was/is spending THIRTY EIGHT HUNDRED PER INSTALLATION. -- Baloney. At that rate, even Google will go bust. No wonder it's getting out, huh?

    Now, do you stick by "billions"? Or was that, to be charitable, gullibility?

    Google Fiber was and is just PR: it has so many billions so easily gotten from massive spying that they squander recklessly, then just abandon clearly bad ideas that shouldn't have begun.


    I often can't follow up because my home IP is blocked and comments through Tor are "moderated" to the bit-bucket, but the substance of this just won't go away: SHOW ME THE ALLEGED BILLIONS, then I'll show you ridiculous costs. --- DON'T show me the money and it's all phony.

    Take your pick. You put my comment up on the Sunday funny, but I'll have the last laugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 24 Mar 2017 @ 3:33pm

      Re: Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

      Man, you're really obsessed with that one post from 2015, aren't you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:41pm

    Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

    https://www.techdirt.com/blog/netneutrality/articles/20151001/06351732404/isp-announces-blocking-all -facebook-google-ads-until-companies-pay-troll-toll.shtml

    "Billions" must be at least TWO, and using best possible March 2016 figures from Wikipedia for your view by adding TV subscribers to broadband subscribers:
    $2,000,000,000 / (68,750 + 453,000) = $3,833.25

    Therefore you must hold that Google was/is spending THIRTY EIGHT HUNDRED PER INSTALLATION. -- Baloney. At that rate, even Google will go bust. No wonder it's getting out, huh?

    Now, do you stick by "billions"? Or was that, to be charitable, gullibility?

    Google Fiber was and is just PR: it has so many billions so easily gotten from massive spying that they squander recklessly, then just abandon clearly bad ideas that shouldn't have begun.


    I often can't follow up because my home IP is blocked and comments through Tor are "moderated" to the bit-bucket, but the substance of this just won't go away: SHOW ME THE ALLEGED BILLIONS, then I'll show you ridiculous costs. --- DON'T show me the money and it's all phony.

    Take your pick. You put my comment up on the Sunday funny, but I'll have the last laugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:43pm

    Related reading

    My local ISP (who is in the middle of planning a fiber deployment of their own) posted this article on their blog recently:

    https://backchannel.com/google-fiber-was-doomed-from-the-start-a5cdfacdd7f2#.u0no1yza7

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:48pm

    Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

    https://www.techdirt.com/blog/netneutrality/articles/20151001/06351732404/isp-announces-blocking-all -facebook-google-ads-until-companies-pay-troll-toll.shtml

    "Billions" must be at least TWO, and using best possible March 2016 figures from Wikipedia for your view by adding TV subscribers to broadband subscribers:
    $2,000,000,000 / (68,750 + 453,000) = $3,833.25

    Therefore you must hold that Google was/is spending THIRTY EIGHT HUNDRED PER INSTALLATION. -- Baloney. At that rate, even Google will go bust. No wonder it's getting out, huh?

    Now, do you stick by "billions"? Or was that, to be charitable, gullibility?

    Google Fiber was and is just PR: it has so many billions so easily gotten from massive spying that they squander recklessly, then just abandon clearly bad ideas that shouldn't have begun.


    I often can't follow up because my home IP is blocked and comments through Tor are "moderated" to the bit-bucket, but the substance of this just won't go away: SHOW ME THE ALLEGED BILLIONS, then I'll show you ridiculous costs. --- DON'T show me the money and it's all phony.

    Take your pick. You put my comment up on Sunday for funny, but I'll have the last laugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:52pm

      Re: Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

      That was comment was blocked twice. Way to get in with Tor is to comment in other articles until "view your comment" appears, then dash over to get in where want.

      Ain't technology grand? Why not take your own advice and just let anyone use your work? Just because pay for it doesn't mean you own it, not if was a movie, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rapnel (profile), 23 Mar 2017 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re: Oh, so now you're puzzled? Follow up to 'You stated "Google, which is spending billions on wireless service and fiber to the home":'

        BILLIONS of old souls and we get the noob

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 6:26pm

    Google is an advertising company and the government is about to legalise ISPs sharing data with advertisers. You'd think Google would be all over this...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PerhapsHope, 23 Mar 2017 @ 6:48pm

    Will this change based on "Dig Once"

    I wonder if the bill floating around congress and the FCC called "Dig Once" will alter Google's approach?

    With the bill, any road construction could include laying pipe that is intended for communication infrastructure.

    Access rights out the window, there's a pipe, it's there, players have access - go for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 9:41pm

      Re: Will this change based on "Dig Once"

      any road construction could include laying pipe that is intended for communication infrastructure.

      In the old days, we called these "telephone poles". Installed at taxpayer expense at first, then mandated to be installed by new developers trying to sell houses (along with the telephone, power, water, sewer, gas, sidewalks, gutters, streets), then promptly turned over to the local monopolies.

      Google Fiber is going no where fast because of "pole sharing" laws passed by cable and telecommunications lobbies. These laws make it very simple for cable and telco to refuse competing infrastructure to use access ways despite the fact that in most instances, those ways belong to the taxpayers. How are these new ways going to be any different than the ones currently locked up against competition?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 23 Mar 2017 @ 8:21pm

    WebPass is part of Google Fiber

    I just signed up for WebPass in San Francisco, which is now owned by Google Fiber, as per their logo. They do wireless for the last mile. It required mounting an antenna on the roof. (Actually we piggybacked on another tenent in the building who paid for the antenna installation.) Looks like they are in 7 metro areas now. Admittedly I haven't followed the story closely, but this looks like a pretty big part of a pivot to wireless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 24 Mar 2017 @ 4:59am

      Re: WebPass is part of Google Fiber

      While there is enough dark fiber some places, it isn't everywhere, and you can't go 100% wireless. Plus the local incumbent ISPs (who seem to want to buy up the backbone providers who where not last mile carriers before) are just going to start charging the wireless ISPs more to carry their traffic. Not a solution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    daniel, 23 Mar 2017 @ 10:02pm

    I'm currently a construction contractor for Google in one of their new markets. Mark my words, there will be a major delay in roll out of Google fiber. I'd say there is a 50/50 chance they will pull the plug completely and sell out all their existing infrastructure. Google has now retreated to the bunker, and refusing to answer the phone. Shifting to wireless for the "last mile out" will take years to implement in an efficient manner that would be fiscally viable. The lives of countless construction contractors have been turned upside down by Google's reckless attempt to enter the HSD delivery market and subsequent failure. It is well known in our industry as Google partners that they were grossly unprepared to undertake this endeavor. The only bright side is they have lit a fire under their competitions asses to bring 1G service to the market quicker. Good thing the existing big dogs can and will soon. Hope that helps

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2017 @ 10:32pm

    Another Google beta getting turned off. No surprises!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Mar 2017 @ 4:12am

    If even a huge company like Google is having trouble to enter the market then something is clearly wrong. Of course, the citizens 'representatives' (take the word with a gigantic grain of salt) are being paid to ignore the elephant in the room.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 24 Mar 2017 @ 8:32am

    I had discussed with my partner switching our cellphone service to Project Fi from Google. But, after careful consideration, even though it would initially save us a significant amount of money, we decided against it. We just can't accept that in 6 months, a year, Google will decide to end the experiment and we'd be left with no service and be at the mercy of higher costs to go to another carrier. At this point, I'd be hard-pressed to use any Google product (other than gmail or Android) for anything critical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David Lane, 24 Mar 2017 @ 8:54am

    I live in Overland Park, KS and Google e-mailed me this Monday to notify residents that sign-ups for the service would begin in April. It seems as if their intent is to further expand the service into additional areas of Kansas City. The infrastructure has already been laid nearly 6 months ago, and sign-ups are just now happening. I don't know why a company would spend such a massive amount of money to simply sit on their infrastructure without trying to capitalize one it. I guess I'll wait and see how many months it takes from the time of sign-up to time of service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2017 @ 8:25pm

    Remember, AT&T advertises, a lot.

    And Google loves big advertisers. Maybe they're just trying to keep their customers happy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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