Google Fiber taps former TWC executive Jain as CEO

Google Fiber Nashville
Google Fiber has named cable industry veteran Dinesh Jain as its new CEO. (Google Fiber)

Google Fiber has named former Time Warner Cable executive Dinesh Jain to be the CEO of the company’s broadband-focused "Access" division, marking another rotation in its leadership revolving door.

Prior to coming to Google Fiber, Dinesh served as the COO of Time Warner Cable.

“He will lead Access and its team, which includes employees at our headquarters in California and in the nearly 20 markets across the country where Google Fiber and Webpass have ongoing operations,” said Google Fiber in a blog post.

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Jain’s deployment follows what has been a revolving door of leaders that have left the company as it has seen a share of struggles and questions about its dedication to the fiber and wireless broadband initiative overall.

He replaces Gregory McCray, who abruptly stepped down as the Access CEO in July. At that time, no reason for his departure was given.

In taking the CEO position, Jain will face a mentality that Google Fiber’s dedication to disrupt the broadband market may not be as strong as it once was given the challenges of constructing Greenfield fiber networks.

The cracks in the Google Fiber armor began to appear when the unit’s parent Alphabet scuttled a proposed expansion plan put in place by McCray’s predecessor, Craig Barratt. Barratt wanted to expand into another eight cities. Alphabet opted to abandon those plans and laid off 9% of the workforce. In October 2016, not long after that decision was made, Barratt left the company. McCray was hired in February 2017.

Later in April 2017, Alphabet removed Access executive and Google Fiber President Dennis Kish. Also at the time, Bloomberg reported that hundreds of Access employees were being reassigned elsewhere. 

To overcome the fiber network installation challenges, including getting access to aerial utility poles, Google Fiber has been leaning towards using alternative last mile access methods, including fixed wireless.

Part of that alternative access strategy drove Google Fiber to acquire Webpass, a San Francisco-based ISP that offers fiber and wireless-based broadband services mainly to businesses. Webpass currently offers 500 Mbps symmetrical speeds to multi-dwelling units and office buildings for about $55 a month, and already has about 20,000 customers in five major U.S. cities, including San Francisco.

But even the service provider’s dedication to wireless broadband remains in question.

The service provider recently shut down wireless service from Boston provided by Webpass, a wireless ISP Google previously acquired. Webpass now offers fixed wireless services in seven remaining markets: Chicago, Denver, Miami, Oakland/East Bay, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Google Fiber Webpass homepage (Webpass)

Although Google Fiber continues to maintain it’s on track with its plans, industry onlookers will continue to question the company’s dedication to the project.