Google Fiber’s long-term game plan appears to be in flux amid a report that the division is being forced to cut back staffing levels amid slower- than-expected subscriber growth and the pursuit of cheaper wireless alternatives.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, plans to reduce Google Fiber’s staffing from 1,000 to about 500 people, The Information reported. Google Fiber hasn’t revealed subscriber figures; the report pinned its sub base at about 200,000, well below the pace needed to reach a projected target of 5 million subscribers within the first five years. Google Fiber first launched broadband and TV service in Kansas City in July 2012.
Google has maintained that Fiber is a real business and not just an experiment or a way to prod other ISPs to accelerate to Gigabit speeds (though that has happened). Google also has been exploring wireless-based high-speed Internet technologies that could reduce expenses and speed up the pace of deployment.
Google Fiber has put some expansion plans on hold while weighing wireless alternatives but moved forward with service signups in portions of Salt Lake City last week. Other Google Fiber launched markets: Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta; Kansas City; and Provo, Utah, with commitments to deploy in San Antonio; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.