According to local reports, Google Fiber has canceled some of its planned buildouts in its Kansas City market—though the company noted it has built out several new neighborhoods in Kansas City and that it remains committed to the market.
"Google Fiber loves Kansas City and is here to stay," the company said in a statement. "We’ve been grateful to be part of your community since 2011, and for the opportunity to provide superfast internet to residents. We recently announced our expansion into Raymore, we are continuing to build in Overland Park, and we can’t wait for even more customers in Kansas City to experience what’s possible with Google Fiber."
But Kansas City’s KSHB reported that Google Fiber has canceled an unknown number of service installations across the city. The outlet reported that affected users, some of whom have been waiting for Google Fiber service for more than a year, received an email from Google noting that “although we’ve been working hard to bring you service, we’re unable to build our network to connect to your home or business at this time.”
Google added that it would cancel those users’ Fiber accounts.
The actions come as Google Fiber undergoes a major retooling. Google Fiber’s parent Alphabet reassigned an unspecified number of its Fiber employees to other roles in the company. The service provider also named Gregory McCray, CEO of Aero Communications, as the new CEO of Access, the unit of Alphabet that runs Google Fiber, after former Access CEO Craig Barratt left Google Fiber to become CEO of Ethernet silicon vendor Barefoot Networks.
Reports have widely indicated that Google’s fiber buildouts proved too expensive for the company, and that it is in the process of re-evaluating its market strategy and may rely on cheaper, wireless deployments. Indeed, Google purchased wireless ISP Webpass last year.
Further, a source close to the company noted that Google Fiber is testing a variety of techniques to reduce costs, including microtrenching in Austin, where the company has dug 200 miles successfully. Microtrenching involves making a narrow cut between the road and the curb. Another machine is then used to vacuum the dirt. After the shallow trench is dug, a provider can then deploy conduit and use a polymer seal over the top of it.
Those alternatives notwithstanding, Google has said it continues to move forward with some of its Fiber To The Home (FTTH) efforts. The company has said that it remains active in Kansas City as well as Nashville, Louisville and San Antonio.
A Google spokesperson didn't respond to a question about whether it might also cancel planned installations in markets outside of Kansas City like Nashville, Louisville and San Antonio.
The trials of Google Fiber come amid significant upheaval in the telecom market. While some service providers continue to move forward with fiber deployments, others are testing broadband services ranging from fixed 5G technology to internet over power lines.
Article updated with comment from Google March 20.