Google Fiber Fizzles as Predicted

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In March, we posted an article called “Google’s Fiber: Laugh All the Way to Bank,” in which we stated: “While [Alphabet’s] Google has made a certain amount of investment in the deployment of fiber just to keep up the pretense, as we wrote in late 2014, its vested interest is in encouraging broadband build-outs by other entities in order to increase Internet traffic, which would have a positive effect on its core advertising business.” Moreover, when this writer was a Principal at Telecom Pragmatics, Inc., we put out a press release back in April, 2010 with the headline, “Google’s Fiber for Communities Will Probably Be Token Effort…” Now this month in the Wall Street Journal, there is a piece called “Google’s High-Speed Web Plans Hit Snags.” It simply defies credulity that the company’s “initial rollouts proved more expensive and time consuming than anticipated.”

Once again, Google’s excruciating analysis of cost on all matters is unrivaled by any other company on the planet. With all of its resources, it is also just not reasonable that it was unware of the “headaches of building a fiber network” including “destroyed lawns and ruptured gas lines.” In addition, the fact that “competing telecom firms are blocking the company from stringing fiber on their utility poles” is a red herring since there would have been more than enough cities willing to change these prohibitions in advance of serious fiber penetration by the search engine provider. Regardless, one finds it hard to believe that apparently there will be the robotic acceptance by the press, analysts, observers, etc. that the firm is now definitely committed to wireless to the home “in about a dozen new metro areas.”

Why is there not the assumption that Google will engage in such activity to spur other service providers to do likewise, while limiting its own investment? Certainly, while its backing of a WiFi project in San Francisco was reported as a bust, was that really the case? The goal was just another means of showing the way for others to increase the amount of available bandwidth on the net. When is there going to be a full realization that Google has no interest in getting much beyond its traditional means of generating revenue?

In that 2014 post, we showed the likely connection between Google’s fascination with self-driving automobiles. Similarly, its investment in artificial intelligence has a direct correlation with the need for greater amounts of capacity for Internet transmission. Likewise, the same can obviously be said for its “Glass wearable computer.”

The promotional efforts by Google over the use of fiber for over six years will have a lasting effect indefinitely. Even the Journal now engages in excessive rhetoric by stating fiber “offer[s] web connections roughly 30 times faster than the U.S. average.” There is no mention of it being a shared service that depending on a particular situation, it may at times offer even less capacity to an individual home than fiber/coaxial or copper networks.

Google’s retreat is not good news for Microsoft, with the latter amusingly citing it as a major reason for its optical network not being as large as the former. Yet, one has to wonder whether all of these unfulfilled announced goals from Google start to catch up to it, and threaten its credibility, ultimately even on environmental matters.

[written by Mark Lutkowitz]