Google Fiber’s last network expansion occurred in 2017 to Huntsville, San Antonio, and Louisville. Alphabet’s Access division is now pulling out of the latter Kentucky city due to the massive undertaking required to solve a fundamental network issue that is not the “right business decision” for Google Fiber.
When service launched in Louisville, Google Fiber touted how it was the fastest launch from construction announcement to signing up customers. This was due to a new construction method that placed fiber lines in much shallower trenches than other cities. Along with San Antonio, Google Fiber did not launch TV service and instead relied on over-the-air solutions.
This new deployment method resulted in issues that disrupted internet service, and required Google Fiber to perform continual maintenance. Construction involved (via CNET) digging trenches two-inches below street level, placing the cables, and closing them with a rubbery liquid that would later solidify.
However, the fiber cables often popped out and Google would have to refill the trenches. The issues became so prevalent that Alphabet would have had to rebuild its entire Louisville network.
We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Fiber cities. 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.
According to the company, that is not the “right business decision for us.” As a result, Google Fiber is shutting down on April 15th, and working with “customers and partners to minimize disruption.” In the meantime, internet service will be free for the next two months.
Google Fiber says that there is “no impact on our operations in any of our other Fiber cities,” touting how it continues to sign up and install new customers every day in other locations. Additionally, the team was able to refine on its “micro trenching methods and are seeing good outcomes elsewhere.” The main difference with the revised method is six-inch deep trenches.