October 28, 2016
Despite its recent notable forays into the wireless and telecom industries (see Google Enters the Wireless Industry with a New Service and Google Fiber Just Became a Wireless ISP), Google insists that it is not trying to trying to become a major telecom player.
While the company has thus far found itself competing with carriers in a few small areas, Google’s head of strategic telecom relationships, Mike Blanche, has repeatedly stated that the company wants to fulfill the role of a “partner” rather than a “competitor.”
Blanche further specified the company’s intentions, using the following breakdown in a recent interview: Reportedly, Google aims to fit into the industry by being 80 percent partner (with other telecos), 10 percent supplier, 5 percent customer, and 5 percent competitor.*
Through these statements, it seems that the search engine giant hopes to assuage concerns throughout the telecom industry of Google’s possible future as a rival carrier.
These concerns are certainly understandable—in the past few years, Google has markedly broadened its reach beyond search engine capabilities, specifically when it entered the wireless industry. The company had also recently requested a go-ahead from the FCC to begin wireless broadband trials in more than two dozen cities throughout the U.S.
Google recently revealed plans to scale back its wireless endeavors, stating that Google Fiber will “pause our operations and offices” in “most of our ‘potential rollout cities.'”
This news comes from a blog post written by Craig Barratt, the senior VP of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and the CEO of Alphabet’s Access unit.
Varying reports say that this could mean cutting Google Fiber’s workforce by about 9 percent. In addition, Barratt himself plans to step down from his position at Alphabet Inc. and Google Fiber.
This means that, although Google Fiber will continue to expand in markets where its deployments already exist (which currently includes Kansas City and surrounding areas, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Provo and Salt Lake City), it will not be progressing in any additional markets (specifically in Chicago, Dallas, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Tampa).
It’s currently unclear whether recent events had any influence over these developments. Just last week, Google Fiber became a wireless ISP after acquiring Webpass, a gigabit provider based in the San Francisco area.
Experts also point out that the “pause” comes after reports that chief broadband rivals such as AT&T and Comcast announced plans to extend their own fiber networks and gigabit services, likely in response to Google Fiber’s entrance into the market.†
It’s possible that Google Fiber may be trying to avoid clashing with these major providers; for now, it seems content to continue working on its current, small-scale projects—without making waves and splashing the other players in the pool.