Technology

Google Fiber broadband plan scaled back

Google Fiber van Image copyright Google

Google is to scale back the expansion of its fibre broadband network, which it was rolling out to bring high-speed internet access to some US cities.

In a blog post, Google Fiber chief executive Craig Barratt announced he was stepping down and said development in many cities would be "paused".

However, installation will continue in cities where work has already started.

One analyst suggested Google would explore less expensive ways to roll out broadband access.

"Installation was far too time consuming and expensive," said Kamalini Ganguly, senior analyst at the Ovum consultancy.

"Fibre is the most expensive option when it comes to mainstream broadband access technology.

"I think in the future we may see Google use a wireless solution that doesn't take fibre all the way to the home. We'll see a combination of technologies."

Google Fiber was designed to bring ultrafast internet access to cities with poor web infrastructure and limited competition between service providers.

The project was first announced in 2010 and more than 1,000 towns and cities applied to be part of it.

Fibre optic internet cables can deliver much faster speeds than traditional copper telephone wires or existing wireless solutions, but running new cables to millions of homes can be prohibitively expensive.

Job losses

Mr Barratt said the company's plan had been "refined" to "focus on new technology" but did not specify whether Google was switching its focus to wireless internet.

Google Fiber already offers internet access in nine cities, and has committed to deploying its technology in a further four.

Mr Barratt said that work would go ahead and that existing customers in cities such as Atlanta, Georgia and Austin, Texas would not be affected.

"Our subscriber base and revenue are growing quickly and we expect that growth to continue," he said.

However, development would be "paused" in most of the 10 "potential" cities it had been evaluating and Chicago, Illinois and San Diego, California have been removed from the list of possible future locations.

Mr Barratt confirmed there would be some job losses at the organisation.

Despite Google's decision to scale back its fibre roll-out, Ms Ganguly said the scheme had achieved some of its goals.

"Definitely one of their objectives was to spur competition and push other providers into rolling out fibre and providing higher bandwidth services at an affordable price. They have achieved that," she told the BBC.

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