Google Fiber Hitting “Pause” On Expansion; CEO Departing, Layoffs Planned

Image courtesy of Discrete_Photography

The CEO of Google Fiber wants you to know that Fiber is doing great. Super great, y’all. So great, in fact, that he’s leaving, employees are being laid off, and expansion into any “potential” city is totally halting immediately.

Yeah. If you’ve been hoping Google Fiber would be heading to your city to induce some badly-needed competition in the internet space anytime soon, well, today is a bad day for you.

You’ve got to hand it to Google for spin, though. The blog post in which it announces the troubles starts off with the headline, “Advancing our amazing bet,” before launching into a couple of paragraphs gushing about how great Fiber is.

Then the shoe drops. “We have to continue not only to grow, but also stay ahead of the curve — pushing the boundaries of technology, business, and policy — to remain a leader,” CEO Craig Barratt writes. To that end, Google has “refined its plan” for how to do those things while perhaps not losing giant Scrooge-McDuck-worthy piles of money.

In short, Google is saying: this isn’t working, so we’re scrapping it and doing something else.

Barratt then admits that the changes “will have some immediate implications,” and that’s where the really bad news starts to hit. Cities where Fiber already exists, or where construction is already underway, will continue to have service (or construction) continue. But the shortlist of potential cities is now, potentially permanently, on pause.

That means Los Angeles, Portland, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Tampa, Jacksonville (FL), and Google’s own San Jose/Mountain View/Palo Alto backyard are out of luck.

The news may not exactly come as a surprise to residents of those luckless cities. News leaked out over the summer that plans for rolling out Fiber in Portland and greater San Jose (including Mountain View and Palo Alto) would not be moving forward on schedule. That those plans are basically scrapped entirely, however, is still a disappointment.

Barratt does hint that wireless may be the wave of the future, saying that he is “confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our partnership discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

As to when or how gigabit-capable wireless tech can realistically be deployed to cities, though… well. Your guess is as good as anyone’s, but we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.

Fiber is on a “strong trajectory,” Barratt concludes, and he “remain[s] confident” about the future. Oh and P.S., Barratt adds — I’m out, too. Or, in corporate speak, he says “this is the right juncture to step aside from [his] CEO role.”

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