Ever since the Alphabet announcement, Google and its former operations and projects have been undergoing a massive restructuring. Some, like Life Sciences, Nest, and Google itself, we already know by name. Some, however, are still trying to find their proper place in the grander scheme of things. Some of those seem to have found a temporary home in Access, or more formally, Access and Energy, a mishmash of projects all lumped together and somewhat loosely linked to one major Google business that has almost gone silent: Fiber.
It’s hardly believable that Google Fiber is nearly four years old, and yet Google’s dream of supplying high speed Internet access to the US remains largely unfulfilled. At the moment, there are practically only three cities with Fiber available. The rest of the 18 named locations are either still upcoming or just potentially coming, depending on how research and negotiations turn out.
But Access and Energy isn’t just about Fiber either. It also includes, for example, the recently launched OnHub router, which almost sounds like a better fit for Nest or an independent IoT or home subsidiary. There is also Project Titan under its wing, Google’s foray into solar-powered drones. That last part offers a segue to the “Energy” part of the subsidiaries name, since Access also includes Project Sunroof, a relatively new project announced August that, as you might have guessed form its name, is all about solar power on people’s roofs.
Curiously, some projects that might seem to fit under Access isn’t there. For example, Project Fi would seem like a perfect match for Fiber. Makani, a company specializing in wind power that Google also acquired, remains part of Google X.
This confusing roster of projects is a bit indicative of the reorganization mess that Alphabet and Google are going through. Sources indicate that Access and Energy still has to be given a more formal name, but a subsidiary like this by any other name would be as amorphous. Most of Access’ projects seem to have organically grown around Craig Barratt, former Qualcomm exec and now Access CEO, to whom Larry Page was said to have passed on anything that even remotely touches on telecommunications. It seems at the moment that Fiber, despite its slow rollout, might be the core product of Access. How Alphabet plans to make sense of the rest, however, might require some entrepreneurial miracle.