Google Fiber, the Alphabet division focused on providing high-speed Internet access in the US, has ambitious plans to expand its fiber services over the next three to five years. company announced in a blog post. It aims to launch fiber services in five new states, including previously announced plans to enter Arizona and Colorado, as well as Nebraska, Nevada, and Idaho. In total, Reuters reports that Google Fiber hopes to expand to 22 metro areas, as of 17 today.
It’s a big turnaround from 2016, when the company reportedly fired 9 percent of staff and paused plans to launch services in more than half a dozen cities. In the following years, reports emerged that the company was canceling hundreds of installations in existing metro areas such as Kansas City and completely abandoning Louisville, Kentucky after an ill-fated experiment laying fiber optic cables in ultra-shallow trenches.
However, now the company appears to be able to grow, says CEO Dinni Jain Reuters that the team is ready to “add a little more build speed”. Its March launch in West Des Moines, Iowa was the first new state in five years, and the following month it said it would be expand to Des Moines. Reuters notes that Google Fiber built more in 2021 than in “the previous years combined.”
Despite his hopes of getting back on track, Jain says Google Fiber’s ambitions are modest. “There was the impression ten years ago that Google Fiber was trying to build the whole country,” he told Reuters. “What we’re gesturing here is, ‘No, we’re not trying to build up the whole country.’” In addition to expanding into the new states, Jain’s blog post says the expansion will continue in existing urban areas.
Dating back to 2010, Google Fiber was originally launched to drive the adoption of faster internet speeds at a lower cost, partly by offering it directly and partly by pressuring established US carriers to compete. As a former CEO of Time Warner, Jain says he felt the pressure from Google directly. “We were so paranoid,” he says Reuters.
The news about Google Fiber’s expansion plans comes at a time of belt-tightening at Google and in the tech industry more broadly. Last month, the company announced a two-week hiring freeze as it reviewed its staffing needs, making it the latest tech giant to take stock in a deteriorating economic environment. Alphabet has also been more willing to close experimental projects in recent years. It shut down its balloon internet service Loon last year and ended its energy kite division in 2020.
“The intent is to build businesses that will be successful on their own, and that’s what we’re definitely trying to do at Google Fiber,” said Jain. Reuters.
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