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.
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?