Google Pulls Plans for Fiber Expansion

Google's Access has announced the discontinuation of efforts to bring its fiber network to new cities. The redirect comes with job losses and the resignation of the division's CEO.

by / October 27, 2016

Google’s plan to bring high-speed Internet to cities across the United States is experiencing interruptions — interruptions that have forced the company to halt its future expansion plans and reduce staff numbers.

In a post on the Google Fiber Blog dated Oct. 25, Access CEO Craig Barratt explained the reasoning behind the decision, saying his division would be “making changes to focus the business and product strategy.” Barratt also served as the senior vice president of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Though the nine existing Google Fiber jurisdictions, which include cities like Atlanta, Ga.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Antonio, Texas, will not be impacted by the strategy re-evaluation, any potential sites will be put on hold until further notice.

“These changes to our business and technology will have some immediate implications. Some of our efforts will remain unchanged, but others will be impacted,” Barratt wrote in the post. “In terms of our existing footprint, in the cities where we’ve launched or are under construction, our work will continue. For most of our 'potential Fiber cities' — those where we’ve been in exploratory discussions — we’re going to pause our operations and offices while we refine our approaches.”

Some have speculated that the installation costs associated with fiber-optic networks are behind the directional shift and have surmised that the company could be moving toward other technologies like wireless Internet distribution methods.  

The CEO also announced the staffing reductions within the Access division. For the time being, it remains unclear exactly how many jobs will be lost in this process.

“We’re ever grateful to these cities for their ongoing partnership and patience, and we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our partnership discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions,” he wrote. “In this handful of cities that are still in an exploratory stage, and in certain related areas of our supporting operations, we’ll be reducing our employee base.”

In addition to general staff reductions, the Access CEO announced that he too would be stepping aside, but assisting the company in an advisory capacity.