According to a new report in The Information, last month Larry Page told Google Fiber boss, Craig Barratt, to cut his 1000-strong workforce in half. If true, the move comes amidst claims that Google Fiber’s physical broadband network is to be replaced with a wireless high-speed internet solution instead. Given the reported job cuts, this bait-and-switch approach makes a lot of sense.

See also:

AT&T claims Google’s incorrect info delays Fiber rollout

August 26, 2016

To say Google Fiber’s rollout has been plagued with problems would be an understatement. Repeated delays, unfulfilled contracts and a debatable service plan led to one insider admitting “we weren’t able to learn from our mistakes”. Barratt himself had reportedly contemplated leaving last year, based on growing dissatisfaction with Fiber’s expensive rollout.

Page apparently wants to abandon the slow and costly rollout of physical broadband infrastructure – something that takes a lot of people a long time to complete. The alternative is to replace it with a high-speed wireless solution currently being used by WebPass, a company Google recently acquired. According to the report, this would allow Google to roll out Fiber for one-tenth of the current cost. The new wireless internet division is reportedly known as Access.

Switching to a wireless approach would allow Google to roll out Fiber for one-tenth of the current cost.

While other senior executives at Alphabet still believe Google Fiber – or Access – presents a viable business model, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are less than optimistic. Sergey Brin reportedly said last year that “Fiber was a low-margin business and [that] Alphabet would have to find less expensive methods than digging up streets to deploy fiber optic cables in order to continue expanding coverage”.

Following the reshuffling under Alphabet, all Google divisions were forced to present profitability plans, with drastic changes as a consequence for failing to demonstrate how a project could make money in the near future. Google Fiber has apparently reached the end of its grace period and is to undergo some pretty massive shifts in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on Google Fiber? Is a wireless solution the wiser move?

Kris Carlon
Kris Carlon is a Senior Editor at Android Authority. He is a half-British Australian who lives in Berlin, travels a lot and is always connected to a laptop, phone, smartwatch or tablet (and occasionally a book).
  • Muneerhassan

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  • Goblin Shark

    You state “moving to wireless solution” on your headline, as if that were an established fact, yet in your article you provide no evidence other than conjecture to back up your statement. That’s extremely unprofessional.

  • TheOracle

    I wonder how many meetings and brainstorming sessions it took them to figure that one out? Wireless is definitely the way to go.

    • keithbe

      Just switched from wireless to fibre. Fibre is way more stable. The wireless link didn’t handle bad weather well and passing storms usually killed the link. Not great for 3 months of summer. The network was also congested with to few towers, was pricey and service was terribly shaped and throttled.

      • TheOracle

        Wireless to fibre what? Direct tv to Comcast?

      • jnffarrell1

        Routing fiber underground across flood zones between fiberhuts is tough. Avoiding lightning strikes on rooftop antennas is tough. Having alternative route for information during extreme weather is best. Hopefully, both fiber and WiFi links will complete the path to wherever you are.

    • Chris

      Wired will still always be more stable. Besides it’s for your home use anyway….

      • TheOracle

        Wired is definitely more stable but if one of the richest corporations in the world can’t afford it then it’s not viable.

      • Isn’t also wired more available for rural areas, if there are plans to move in them at all?

    • cr_buck

      I disagree with that. Many companies have tried and failed because it’s more complicated and expensive than physical cable. Cell companies has tons of government grants to get established. Cabling is mainly politics and physical work. Wireless had those issues and then adds the complexities of interference. Wireless takes a ton of technical knowledge just to keep it reasonably reliable and it still has issues. That’s where satellite came about to try to work around some. Google’s best bet might be multi tiered so it doesn’t have one point of failure.

      • TheOracle

        Agree 100% but Google runs on profit and an all fibre network is too expensive. Wireless may not be as efficient but a mix of the two (say 70/30 in favour of wireless) is the logical and most profitable solution. Hence by original comment.

  • Oogler

    So basically the same reason Verizon gave up their fiber plans and sold it to Frontier? it was bleeding them dry and they jumped ship to focus on…. wireless and their phones.

  • Andrew

    My thoughts on Google Fibre are to COME OUT IN CANADA!

  • jnffarrell1

    Top down approach using WiFi in large buildings is highly profitable. Most of the valuable customers live or work there.

    Waiting for major street overhaul is slow. Pushing tubes and fishing cable is expensive and dangerous near gas lines. Pulling in signals from the roof of multistorey buildings is cheaper. Within the building, routing fiber is simple if simpletons don’t drive nails into pumbing while installing fiber.

    • cr_buck

      The thing is major cities with big buildings are already pretty well served.

  • iTriune

    Google NEVER follows through with anything it seems. Great ideas, terrible execution.

  • Of course Google Fibre was gonna be a failure they launched it in cities in the middle of nowhere and even now they barely cover probably 2% of the US population and it’s just now just two years after it’s launch that were getting this. If google wants it to be profitable it’s going to have to tackle the big dogs in the large cities that’s where the money is at not bloody Nashville…

    • Choda Boy

      Don’t worry, it is looking like they may pull out of Nashville. Does that make you happy?

      • No it doesn’t I want everybody to be able to get Google Fibre but simply if we want Google Fibre to ever be successful it needs to market itself properly and reach the big urban centers which is where the majority of people live in the USA then expand to the smaller less dense area’s.

        • Zach Mann

          How much more dense can you get when it comes to average sized homes on average sized lots? You make little sense. What is more important is the agreements Google makes with the local utility companies and access to the existing infrastructure. We have to pay $250 PER POLE simply for a study to see if we can attach to said pole. That’s why we are 90% underground with our fiber.

    • Techn9cian46

      “have to tackle large cities”
      >is soon to be covering most of metro Atlanta

  • Fluff

    typical google , never sticks with anything for any decent amount of time

  • Prime

    Fiber needs to roll out the same way Cable TV did. Hundreds(thousands?) of small local companies building out their own systems to a common stet of standards. It’s the only way it will ever get done. It will take decades for wall st. controlled corps to build out your neighborhood.

  • Goblin Shark

    That’s absolutely true. And rereading the headline now 12 hours later I see it’s not as clearcut as I believed because that “reportedly” could be interpreted to include the “wireless solution” as well but I believe must people reading that headline would get the impression that Google’s intent to pursue a wireless solution was a solidly stated set in stone company policy and that is not the case. Any person with journalism training knows that headlines are extremely important because most people don’t read the articles they just scan the headlines. And if someone does click through and read the article they’re likely to only read the first paragraph.

  • theforevermachine

    great now they can bring it to south florida faster and save me from mein comcasten scheizer