Unlike high-speed internet from companies like Comcast, Google Fiber relies on laying new lines to homes. It’s an expensive process that requires working with public utilities and local governments, but Google Fiber has refined its process over the past few years, identifying which techniques work and which do not. For example, it won’t be taping cables to sidewalks to save time.
In the past year, Google Fiber has done more building than in the previous few years combined, and now it’s ready to expand. The service will go live in multiple cities in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, and Nevada over the next several years. That includes some previously announced but delayed expansions like Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Mesa, Arizona. The company has identified these areas as underserved by high-speed internet.
Jain has kept a low profile since taking over Google Fiber in 2018, but it’s not like there was much to talk about. After years of losing money on fiber rollouts, parent company Alphabet seemed to want Fiber to stand on its own. Indeed, Jain concedes in an interview with Reuters that Fiber cannot survive by virtue of “a rich parent’s wallet.”
Even if you’re not in one of the new Google Fiber markets, and most aren’t, there could still be benefits. When Fiber launched in 2010, gigabit service was almost unheard of in the US. It was a bold move to start competing with established ISPs, and analysts have speculated that Google’s big talk spurred some of those players to step up their game. Jain, who was previously an executive at Time Warner Cable confirms it. “We were so paranoid,” he says.
Google Fiber may never be the solution to crummy ISPs we hoped it would be back in 2010 — the time to fix that problem with fiber is probably past. With expanding 5G technologies, it’s possible to deliver gigabit speeds without laying new fiber optic cables in a community. The reliability of wireless service is still hit and miss, but it has improved by leaps and bounds since Google pulled back on fiber deployments. Wireless service is also part of Fiber’s plans under its Webpass brand. That’s a secondary priority right now, but it could become more important in the coming years.