Google Fiber Shrinks Once Again, May Be Restructuring For A More Wireless Future

Image courtesy of Discrete_Photography

Bad news for Google Fiber fans… and worse news for employees. Word on the street today is that the division is shrinking even more, sending its workers into other parts of the company and slimming down everything it can.

Wired reports today that a spokesperson for Alphabet Access — known better to the rest of us as the Fiber division at Google — has told them that Google Fiber is shrinking, and “hundreds” of employees will be sent to other roles.

The move does not come as a big surprise to many industry watchers. The company announced last October that it was “pausing” its expansion plans around the nation to re-evaluate its entire business structure and, um, not do fiber anymore.

Cities that already had Google Fiber service, or where construction was already underway, weren’t losing anything, the company stressed at the time; indeed, just this month, the company happily announced that more Raleigh-area customers can now sign up for plans.

But the then-CEO of Google Access, Craig Barratt, dropped a quick, “p.s. I’m out” at the end of that announcement, which also said that layoffs were planned.

On his way out, though, Barratt dropped an important clue about Fiber’s future, saying that the restructuring plan, “Enhances our focus on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast Internet more abundant than it is today.”

That seemed to point to new, high-tech wireless technologies that Google began testing last August. Wireless has a big advantage over physical fiber: it’s a lot cheaper.

Digging holes, climbing poles, and stringing wires through a sprawling metropolis is hard work, with a lot of opportunity for entrenched incumbents to throw obstacles in the way. That adds up to high costs, mounting quickly, and there’s only so much you can recoup through competitive subscription fees.