Google Fiber started off with a bang back in 2010, and has slowly expanded into some key metropolitan areas across the United States. But while Google Fiber promises symmetrical 1Gbps speeds that are the envy of many techies, parent company Alphabet has run into numerous technical, legal, and competitive challenges that have stalled the rollout to additional cities.
In the case of Louisville, Kentucky, the situation is even worse. Google Fiber first went live in the city during the closing months of 2017, but the ISP has announced that it is now pulling entirely out of the city. That’s right, existing customers will be cut off, and they’ll will have to find a new ISP in just a few months.
“As we told our customers today, we will be turning off the network on April 15th and their next two months of service are on us,” said in a blog post entitled ‘Saying Goodbye to Louisville.’ “We’ll work with our customers and partners to minimize disruption, and we’re committed to doing right by the community, which welcomed us as we tested methods of delivering high-speed Internet in new and different ways.”
The sudden retreat stems from the fact that Google Fiber installation crews used a process called “micro-trenching” in order to quickly lay fiber along roads in the city. Using this method, cables were buried just two inches beneath the surface, and were then covered with sealant. This was a break from the traditional six-inch depth that is used for such fiber-optic cabling.
As you might expect, over time, the cables would work their way back up to the surface exposing them to the elements (and the potential for damage). When this occurred, Google Fiber was then forced to go back and cover up the newly exposed cabling with hot asphalt according to WDRB.
However, because of the many problems with respect to cabling that Google Fiber has encountered, it simply decided to cut its losses rather than “make it right” for the city of Louisville and its residents. “We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Fiber cities,” said Google Fiber in the blog post. “We would need to essentially rebuild our entire network in Louisville to provide the great service that Google Fiber is known for, and that’s just not the right business decision for us.”
This is a big bummer for Google Fiber customers in Louisville who pay $50/month for 100Mbps service or $70/month for 1Gbps service. If there’s any consolation to the fact that Google Fiber service is ending, customers won’t be required to pay for their service in the remaining months leading up to the April 15th cutoff date.
Until then, customers will once again have to start cozying up to the well-entrenched players in the Louisville market: AT&T and Spectrum.