Back in October we heard that Google would be “refining” its approach to its Fiber business. Today, we’re getting more details about just what that entails, and in general, it doesn’t sound all that great for anyone who was hoping that Google Fiber would come to their city and save them from monolithic ISPs. At the very least, it sounds like Google is planning to scale back significantly when it comes to connecting houses directly with fiber cable.
According to Wired, Access, which is the division within Google responsible for fiber roll out and service, is relocating many employees to work at other divisions within the company. While shuffling employees would usually signal the beginning of the end for a division, that may not be the case for Google Fiber. Instead, this bout of restructuring may just signal a change in the way Google implements its high-speed networks.
The problem lies with cost. Connecting individual houses to fiber networks is an expensive endeavor, even when cities have already laid the necessary cable before Google arrives on the scene. If there’s one company that can handle the cost of rolling out fiber on a large scale, it’s probably Google, but it seems like even the cost is too great for one of the world’s largest companies.
Instead, Google may look to offer wireless high-speed internet. The company’s June 2016 purchase of Webpass could be the catalyst for this shift, as Webpass was working on ways to beam “high-speed broadband via networks of small antennas.” Assuming Google can implement the technology Webpass was working with, it could significantly cut down on costs as Google expands to more cities.
The good news is that this won’t have an affect on areas where Google Fiber is up and running. Just as well, previously announced expansions into Nashville, Louisville, and San Antonio will continue, so people who already had Google Fiber or were promised that it was on the way won’t be left out in the cold with these cut backs.
It’ll be interesting to see where Google ends up at the end of all of this. Wired brings up the possibility that Google may one day return to its fiber roll out, but in order for that to happen, it would need to figure out a way to reduce costs dramatically. For now at least, Google will likely look to wireless solutions for its internet business, even if those solutions may not fall under the umbrella of traditional fiber.