Although Google remains a relatively small player in the overall market for high-speed telecommunications services in the United States, its impact on the market is indisputably outsized. The company’s initial pledge almost seven years ago to provide 1 Gbps services to residents in select cities sparked a range of competitive responses from the likes of Comcast, CenturyLink and AT&T. Today the number of 1 Gbps service providers continues to grow.
But Google’s Fiber efforts appeared to stall last year, when the company put much of its expansion plans on hold. A number of top executives, including Craig Barratt, left the company. Google’s woes sparked some not-so-subtle jibes from its rivals: “What some of our competitors are just starting to realize (one after 6 years and only 8 metros) is that this endeavor is challenging,” said Eric Boyer, SVP of Wired and Wireless products and services for AT&T, in a blog post last year that didn’t name Google but was clearly referencing Google Fiber’s troubles.
Today, though, it appears Google Fiber should not be counted out. In a presentation this month at the Fiber Connect 2017 show, Google Fiber’s new CEO Greg McCray confirmed the service will continue to expand to an unspecified number of new cities. Indeed, in recent months Google Fiber confirmed it will build out locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and its fixed wireless internet subsidiary Webpass expanded into Seattle, its seventh market.
"We're in a competitive over-building environment and we need to come up with some newer techniques—and we are,” McCray said. “That's what we're attacking, and we're experimenting in different markets for cost-reduction, speed and less disruption to the community."
The upshot: Google Fiber’s ultimate plans, and those of its Webpass business, remain unclear. Speculation continues that Google could leverage wireless, 5G, microtrenching and other technologies to more quickly and cheaply deploy its services. But what is clear is that Google Fiber is still in the game, and whatever the company does will be closely watched.