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Report: Things Aren’t Well at Google Fiber, Workforce to be Cut in Half

A new report from The Information came out this morning, detailing the struggles taking place inside of Google Fiber. According to the report, which cites various sources close to Alphabet and the Fiber team, Google Fiber had initially hoped to have 5 million subscribers at the five year mark. By the end of 2014, a little more than two years after initial launch, the service had just 200,000 broadband subscribers. 200K is nowhere near 5 million, so you can assume Alphabet executives, Larry Page for one, needed to rethink Fiber’s rollout. 

It has been widely reported that Google may switch to a wireless approach for Google Fiber, using WebPass (a company now owned by Google), which is already deploying high-speed internet wirelessly in select cities throughout the US.

Along with that move, which would already drastically reduce cost of rollout, as there would be much less digging and installing, Larry Page has ordered Google Fiber’s chief, Craig Barratt, to halve the size of the Google Fiber team to 500 people. Overall, Page wants to reduce the current cost of bringing Google Fiber to a customer’s home to one-tenth the current level.

The Information’s report cites one area in particular that hasn’t quite paid off for Fiber – “Viral Explosion.” The idea was to bring Google Fiber to as many markets as quickly as possible, bringing in a large amount of subscribers all at once. If successful, Google could then do the same in additional markets. Unfortunately, by the time Fiber was set up and Google was ready to move on, there was no “systematic approach” to bring the service to new markets. Due to issues with contractors not completing work in a timely manner, launches were delayed by months and rollout was not smooth. According to one source, “Every city was a fire drill, and we weren’t able to learn from our mistakes.”

Personally, it’s pretty sad to see Google Fiber not blossom into what we had all expected, which would have been super-fast internet powered by Google for all Americans. There’s still hope, but it appears Google’s ambitions were a bit extreme this time. As for me in Portland, OR, Google has been teasing Fiber’s possible launch for a solid year now, with no signs of it coming to fruition soon.

Via: The Information [Subscription]
  • psuturtle

    I had both Google Fiber and AT&T’s fiber installed in my neighborhood over the last 6+ months. That right there should tell you something about the cost….the fact that the two companies couldn’t work together to share infrastructure. And neither appear to be anywhere close to going live yet. I think Google (or more likely the contractors they hired) severely underestimated the amount of time and manpower it was going to take to install the lines.

    Not to mention, most of the areas I saw that had the lines installed were left in ruin. No doubt they had tons of angry homeowners calling up to complain about the state in which the contractors left their properties.

    I was all for fiber initially both for what it brought to the table and the competition it added to the cable monopoly. However, after seeing first hand the work involved in getting the infrastructure in place, their money is likely better spent on pursuing wireless.

  • J Dub

    I think it has a lot to do with how connected these telcos are. They can slow down the roll out because they have everyone in their pockets. This is what they do with a lot of ISP start ups. Slow them down in local chambers from rolling out. Litigation that these start ups can’t afford. They have essentially created a monopoly without a monopoly. If you look at the areas around where I live each area has two choices for internet. A cable company and a phone company. That’s it. Zero competition. All the local areas got together a few years ago and rolled out a huge fiber backbone to connect the SW VA area. It’s just sitting there because it’s so hard to connect from the backbone to the house with using telco poles.

  • Matthew Morrison

    Aaaand… All of Chicago weeps in unison… Now.

  • Anitamrasmussen1

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  • Sporttster

    Simply a matter of them seriously considering going wireless instead. Rolling fiber everywhere gets expensive and takes forever….wireless, flip the switch baby!

  • yummy

    That hurts to lose your job.

  • Nathaniel Carter

    well………shit

  • alexbeast15

    What does it matter what speed you have if the servers you connect to cant deliver the same connection speed back? I have never downloaded something at the same speed of service I have. Also I have never had a significant slow down with multiple hd video streams, downloads and gaming at 50/5. Yes, faster speeds would be amazing and we are way behind Asia and Europe but why is speed to your home so important? I get it but…..priorities….not trying to troll just want to understand peoples perspectives : )

    • Felipe Cortinas

      Speed is only a part of it. Like someone else said a big part is also the market change their service forces existing providers to undergo. If you have goo speeds at decent pricing then hey! Congrats!! but a lot of people don’t. When GFiber comes into down you see the other providers suddenly start double or trippeling data caps, and providing another 2 or 3x the current speeds for the same price.

    • bananapeal

      it would be fun if i could video chat with people in hd but since my upload is crippled i usually don’t … it would be nice if i could vpn and work remotely but that gets hard with the slow cable uploads… for which i pay just $10$ less than the google fiber price!

  • jimt

    I live 11 miles from the Googleplex in Mountain View and no Google fiber here. The Heart of silicon valley. What the hey.

  • Here in Atlanta they are rolling out Google Fiber as we speak, although for some reason my complex is still not eligible at this time. The best thing about it so far is that it forced Comcast/Xfinity to increase their data cap from 300Gb to 1Tb per month at the same price ($62). So thanks, Google! This is for 30 Mbps speeds, which honestly is fast enough for my needs. Google is offfering 100 Mbps with no cap for $50/month, which is obviously better, but might not be worth the hassle of switching at this point. Still, the competitive pressure alone makes the project worthwhile IMO.

    • nemosfate

      It IS worth the “hassle” based solely on the fact that if more people would switch to Fiber it would force the greedy broadband providers to adjust speeds and pricing to lure you back.

  • Ilya Kolodiychik

    First it was FiOS which I kept getting ads and mailers for for like 5 years, then they suddenly stopped. Then I hoped Google Fiber would come in, but alas that will likely never happen.

    Meanwhile, I’m stuck paying Time Warner $79.99 for the absolute fastest they have……..which is only 50/5 download/upload.

    Ugh.

  • Duffman

    I’ve been waiting for over a year now. They “Selected” Phoenix and then agreed to do the near by cities (we’re very spread out here) and I have heard zilch, Nada, nothing! I’d love to dump cox for fiber, but if they can’t bring the fiber to my house, I can’t get their service. So the egg is on your face Google. Move your ass!

    • bananapeal

      i think they’re still sued by cox… idk how this lawsuit takes a year or more to resolve… cox must be paying the judges and clerks under the table to slow things down.

  • BlackMaGiC1o0

    I think Google needs to work on execution and marketing with their products more the anything. If not many people know it exist then you’re not doing a good job.

  • trwb

    Cut them in Half!? That seems messy and illegal. Why not just let them go?

    • Ballerado

      Don’t they know that even half sized employees are required to be paid full salary??

      • trwb

        Right lol

  • Apocalypticaly

    Who expected it? Not me. Anything involving massive infrastructure is a slow process due to permitting, negotiation with land and easement holders and construction scheduling.

    • Duffman

      Oh yeah. It took cox 6 months to get permission from my city and HOA to trench a new line into my neighborhood. And that’s someone who is established. It was 8 months until it was finished.

  • John Motschenbacher

    This just in. Google has already cut half of its update rollout force.

  • Brian Himes

    They are also looking into my town, Jacksonville, and it has been put on hold due to unforeseen costs.

  • Zee12399

    Those workers look far too happy, considering.

  • Bryan

    Honestly, I think Google’s strategy was less of rolling out Gigabit fiber to everyone and more of getting the other ISPs to up their game and roll out Gigabit to their customers. Cox in my area now has Gigablast and they are pushing it pretty hard. The specifically said Google Fiber was a reason for this as they want people in 2 year contracts so that they can’t easily switch to Google if they come. We are in Chandler, AZ, near the areas that Google announced last year. Still haven’t seen anything of an actual rollout, though.

    This is typical, though, of the “suits” not really understanding the logistics and ground work required for their decisions. The executive has a great idea that says “Hey, we are Google, everyone loves us, and we should get gigabit internet to everyone. Let’s do it!” This is done without realizing that outside of Silicon Valley, other cities and towns aren’t really that in awe of Google and aren’t going to roll over for them. There are politics and obstacles involved in utilities. It’s the old boys club, backroom deals, construction companies that could care less that you are Google. They are learning that the hard way! 🙂

    So disappointing because I would have switched to Google Fiber in a heartbeat! Although, with Google’s track record of abandoning their pet projects, it’s probably better than I couldn’t!

    • Duffman

      Haha, that’s funny because I live in Tempe. Same story. Been hoping to switch from Cox for over a year. Their Gigablast is so over priced! Come on Google!

    • bananapeal

      hello, they make u sign 2 year contract? in mesa cox gave me 2 year price lock (but it’s not a contract) for their absurdly expensive 60$/mo service… less than 10mbps upload… ugh! effing romania has faster internets!!

  • Lunkman

    Only thing that would have driven me to get it would have been price…I have Charter and have no issues while having 2 PS4’s gaming online while streaming Netflix/Prime and 4 smartphones surfing the internet. How much more speed could I need?

    • Fred

      All at the same time?

      • Lunkman

        Yes sir.

  • Mark Faustino

    Articles going around mention that the project is halted for the Potential Fiber Cities (Portland, OR. San Jose, CA, etc), but is there any insight to Google Fiber cities that are already in mid-construction/layout? (Raleigh, NC for example)

    • Lucky Armpit

      Yeah I’m in Garner NC (suburb of Raleigh) and we’re on the list but like I commented above, I haven’t seen anything since a Feb ’16 article about a Garner Fiber Hut being “close in agreement”. Withe the announcement of their Fiber workforce being halved, I’m wondering if construction for RTP area is going to continue, switch gears and move to wireless, or be halted completely.

      I found a Fiber Hut map of my area and the supposed Hut for Garner ain’t there. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1JRVmLsx_46IjPebTgfPpKV2HM5I&hl=en_US

  • ddevito

    That’s because the future of broadband is in wireless, not fiber (or landlines). Wireless is cheaper and will eventually be faster

    • Mike

      Wireless can never be faster. It can theoretically get close (though on this scale it usually doesn’t), but it can not be faster.

      • ddevito

        It isn’t right now, but it will be in the future.

    • EP_2012

      Too bad it’s nowhere as reliable and can’t work well through walls/underground. Wireless also increases latency, so gamers would never go for that.

      • Wireless is speed of light just like fiber, and being line of sight it actually takes less time to get to you. You’re talking about latency from consumer wireless routers, most of which are used in high interference areas. Wireless backhaul is just as fast, if not slightly faster than wired backhaul.

        • EP_2012

          Any examples of it working in a city? I’d be interested to see the potential.

  • Tom S
  • Kris Caine

    they can’t fight Comcast’s strong hold.

  • andrew

    They should roll out a wireless ISP service, you can get some amazing speeds and low lag.

  • Stephen Fronda

    I would be a Google Fiber customer. Trust me, I’m looking for any reason to ditch Comcast / Time Warner. But In the 5 years they’ve existed, not once have they rolled out near me. Denver and Los Angeles are 2 very good markets for this type of thing.
    Heck, looking at their current map of cities, I’m kinda getting a geography lesson. Try putting it in cities that’ll actually use it.

    Granted, I get that Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc are the people that own most of the lines already buried, and cockblock any attempts to lay something similar. But if anyone can fight it, it’s Google.

    • Mike Dillinger

      Agreed. Just like the big companies are blocking attempts by municipalities to roll out fiber in their own towns.

  • Francisco Peña

    This is why Verizon stopped signing up FIOS in Florida and other places, and ultimately sold that land portion to Frontier. they weren’t building out as much due to cost.

  • Kevin Mueller

    Just as long as they don’t kill it. I have it in KC and would not move to a location that does not have it. Other than the problems during Game 1 of the World Series last year, have not had much of any issues with the service.

  • Larry Simpson

    They pick terrible markets. Come to Pittsburgh, we’re begging for someone other than Comcast and Verizon.

    • michael arazan

      The markets they picked were markets with probably 60% fiber already installed more or less, that’s huge dilemma to account in time, money, and installation you are taking on all your own because they didn’t want to start from scratch as it wouldn’t be cost effective enough.

    • noh1bvisas

      i have crapcast in pittsburgh. 20mps is plenty fast enough and i only pay 39.99. google’s if i recall is something like 80 – 100. no thanks.

  • Lucky Armpit

    I guess that means I won’t be getting Fiber at all here in Garner NC. I was so excited when Google announced the RTP area and that also included lil’ ol’ Garner. That was announced in January 2015… 18 months ago. I know fiber installation takes time but it’s been 18 months and have seen zero activity around here and/or Google trucks. Fiber lines were dug in my neighborhood about a year ago but that was AT&T GigaPower.

    The last I heard was that “Garner close to signing agreement with Google Fiber for hut” but that article was dated February of 2016. And after hearing about the size of the Google Fiber workforce being cut in half, not sure I should hold my breath lest I turn blue.

    The good news has been that I got a free upgrade in my TWC speed from 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps shortly after Google Fiber was announced.

    • PerhapsNever

      Move to Charlotte 😉 (I kid). Yeah, one would have thought with the rollout completed in Charlotte, it would spread to other portions of the state, but I just don’t see that happening now. Raleigh would be another prime market for it.

    • SJ

      Jeez, yo. I live in Charlotte, NC and I’m starting to wonder if it will ever exist here… Yea, one neighborhood has it (Two, technically..) But I’m no where near the city. I’m near the lake. WAYYYY To sprawling. Hell, Even Corning is planning to move its FIBER DIVISION TO CHARLOTTE FROM HICKORY, and I’m still wondering if it will ever happen.

      • Lucky Armpit

        I have a friend that lives is Waxhaw, quite an affluent suburb of Charlotte, and he said it’s not even on the list at all.

      • PerhapsNever

        And I think it’s only two apartment complexes in North Charlotte that actually have it.

  • Mike

    The problem is not the service. It’s that they roll it out to areas that won’t utilize it. Seriously. Go to bigger cities and advertise.

    • Guest

      I want it in LA sooo bad. But im sure there is opposition also. Certain areas in So Cal I have looked up are set for only certain cable companies so for Google to come in and change that is probably a big deal. Im sure that Time Warner/Spectrum would block anything to such a big market. Just my .02

    • MJ

      Rolled out to areas that can’t utilize it?

      • EP_2012

        WON’T not CAN’T… Fiber needs to be implemented in cities, where the likelihood of finding people guzzling up HD content is higher.

        • MJ

          Google Fiber hasn’t been rolled out in cities?

          • EP_2012

            With populations over 1 million? Nope. Most of the places they rolled out Fiber are tiny – Salt Lake City, Utah? Come on, my high school had a bigger population!

            Roll it out in New York, LA, Chicago and we’ll see how quickly they reach their target.

          • Duffman

            Dude, they can’t even get it going in phoenix and its been over a year. We’re 6th biggest city. I wouldn’t hold your breath for somewhere bigger.

          • gabravo2005

            You’re talking about Cox Communications GigaBlast? What’s going on with it? It just rolled out here in Tucson about two months ago, but only at an apartment complex and a small neighborhood on the east side.

          • Duffman

            Yeah, I’m talking cox communications. They’ve been running fiber to tons of residential areas here in tempe. My whole neighborhood is already done. The problem is that it isn’t worth the price.

          • Nw_adventure

            Just went live in SLC – It’s like a 12 block radius – Completely laughable.

          • MJ

            Oh I see, you didn’t mean to say cities but BIG cites. I think almost every ISP started with smaller targets first than got bigger. The cities you are taking about have more obstacles to gain access to in the first place and would cost a lot more to build.

          • EP_2012

            Well, the OP was referring to “bigger cities”, so yeah.

            Regardless of how much extra work it would take, how the hell did Google expect to hit 5 million subscribers when they’re rolling out to cities that hold less people than a North Korean stadium?

          • Jeff “BIG RED”

            This really made me laugh. 195,000 students? Damn bro, your high school is 4 times bigger then the biggest colleges in the US? Sounds legit 😂

          • EP_2012

            That was totally tongue in cheek… but really, under 200,000 people is a tiny city. Google wanted 5 million users – did they expect every tiny city to sign up 100% to get those numbers??

          • Jeff “BIG RED”

            100% sign up would’ve been a miracle. You do have a point about the math. It doesn’t add up.

          • Joseph Della Selva

            xx

    • Dale

      This. For example, Nashville, which was picked as a future site, has Comcast and Charter that already offer great speeds. Here in Columbus, OH a big chunk of the city only has access to 5 mpbs – 50 mbps (max of 5 mpbs upload) at prices upwards of $80-$90/month.

      • Nunyur_Biznezz

        Charter is not in Nashville. Nashville does not have 2 cable companies.

        • Dale

          Charter is in suburbs south of Nashville.

      • Brian Menius

        For me (and I’m thinking many others), Fiber is at least as much, if not more so, about what it does to the market. I don’t really care about the speed Fiber brings. I care about the market adjustment they force with their pricing.

        • Exactly, I was just posting about this. Google Fiber has forced Comcast to raise their data caps here in Atlanta from 300Mb to 1Tb per month, which is a huge benefit if you ask me.

          • sinfoman

            Surely, you mean from GB, not Mb?

          • Thanks, typo.

        • Dale

          Same here. My problem is that I have to pay $70/month to get over 2 Mbps upload. That’s crazy. I’d be happy with 30/5 with what I use it for, but $70/month is excessive. I have friends with Comcast in other parts of the country that pay that much for twice that speed.

      • Anitamrasmussen1

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      • Boomdizzle

        I have Uverse in Columbus and I’m pretty sure I have the 2nd highest tier of internet and it’s like “45” mbps, which of course it never comes close to. I usually get consistently 25. I think it’s supposed to cost around $90 a month but I have a promo discount thank god. I’d switch to fiber in a heartbeat.

        • Magdalenaphawkins

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        • Joanapatchett4

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          !iw1137t:
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        • NemOmeN

          AT&T is rolling out fiber already and will be spreading to most areas by 2020. Already covering Newnan pretty well and Senoia, Peachtree City, and several areas around Atlanta.

    • MH

      So much this. The midwest is not the place to do that. East and west coasts….where the majority of the population is. Simple stuff….

    • JLV90

      Or the competition steps up and gives the same rates to avoid losing customers to Google. The average consumer probably doesn’t want to deal with switching if they can get a similar service within the same price range.

      • Higher_Ground

        plus cable. You get “promotional” offers that include internet and cable… but good luck getting just one without the other.

    • ck125

      Agree. I would love it in my area. But alas we are stuck with comcast who are super expensive and iffy service or one cheaper alternative with much slower speeds.

      • JLV90

        In my area you get to choose only from Comcast or AT&T, Comcast is somewhat reliable here. They also offer 2 Gbps down and up if you pay $300 a month

    • That’s the problem, though, big cities already have good service, and it’s harder to lay fiber there, due to existing agreements with the municipalities and ISPs. Google was targeting smaller areas for a lot of reasons.

    • Just_an_assumption

      what if people are just afraid of too much Google?

    • Chris W

      They are in Atlanta.

  • Larinx

    Another project Google started that won’t get finished haha

    • Suicide_Note

      That remains to be seen. The move to wireless could greatly speed up the rollout.

      • Larinx

        Hey I’m with ya. I want it as well, but Google does this a lot unfortunately. I know this involves a lot of infrastructure and regulation but still sucks.

    • p0k3y

      They fail so much because of lack of focus and conviction. Starting to show in Android OS too, unfortunately.

    • noh1bvisas

      it was all a beta test.