Google Fiber’s attempt to roll out its gigabit internet across the city of Louisville, Kentucky has apparently failed so spectacularly that the company has decided to completely shut down the service and leave town altogether. CNET has a report on the news, which Alphabet’s Access division confirmed in a blog post on Thursday. “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 Fiber team said. Google Fiber signups in Louisville began in October 2017.
It is yet another severe blow to Alphabet’s fiber-based residential and business broadband service, which once drew a lot of buzz before Alphabet severely curtailed investment and paused expansion. About a year ago, The Verge reported that Google Fiber would shut down its Webpass gigabit internet service in Boston. Alphabet later brought on a former Time Warner Cable executive to lead the Access unit that’s in charge of Fiber.
In Louisville, Google Fiber installation crews had been using a process called “shallow trenching” that involved laying fiber cable two inches beneath the sides of roads in the city and covering them up with sealant. The company seemed optimistic about this plan until some of the cable started becoming exposed over time, requiring a second cover-up with hot asphalt. It seems Access realized it had to go a bit deeper with the cabling; in San Antonio, a similar method is used — but the fiber is laid at least six inches deep into the ground. Google Fiber has at times faced legal challenges from rivals (like AT&T) that don’t want to share utility poles, so shallow trenching is also a way around that hurdle.