Google Access, the unit of Alphabet that’s competing with cable networks by delivering its own high-speed internet, announced major changes this week. CEO Craig Barratt will step down from his role as CEO, though will continue to serve as an adviser. Google Access will also stop rolling out Google Fiber to new markets. That’s going to result in layoffs where it was planning to deploy its services, unfortunately, but it doesn’t mean Google Fiber is dead just yet.
Instead, Barratt said in a blog post that Google Access is going to change the way it approaches its Fiber rollout. Barratt said Google Access has a new refined plan that will allow it to “focus on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast Internet more abundant than it is today.” He didn’t say it, but Barratt is likely talking about new wireless technologies. Qualcomm is already pushing forward with 5G, for example, which will allow gigabit speeds to mobile devices.
Refocusing Google Fiber
As a result of the new focus, Google Access will stop deploying Fiber in new markets. Here’s what Barratt said:
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. 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. 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.
Google Fiber seems to be in a bit of a limbo right now. Was Google turned off by AT&T, Comcast and other competitors that started to offer their own Gigabit solutions? Or does it really have a bold new plan that’ll help its service deploy quicker? Those questions remain unanswered for now.