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Google Fiber To Cut Staff In Half After User Totals Disappoint, Says Report (dslreports.com) 204

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Sources claim that Google Fiber has been disappointed with the company's overall number of total subscribers since launching five years ago. A paywalled report over at The Information cites a variety of anonymous current and former Google employees, who say the estimated 200,000 or so broadband subscribers the company had managed to sign up by the end of 2014 was a fary cry from the company's original projection of somewhere closer to 5 million. Google Fiber has never revealed its total number of subscribers. A report last October pegged the company's total broadband subscribers at somewhere around 120,000, though it's unclear how many of those users had signed up for Google Fiber's symmetrical 5 Mbps tier, which was originally free after users paid a $300 installation fee. Disappointed by sluggish subscriber tallies, The Information report states that last month Alphabet CEO Larry Page ordered Google Fiber boss Craig Barratt to cut the total Google Fiber staff in half to roughly 500 people. That's a claim that's sure to only fuel continued speculation that the company is starting to get cold feet about its attempts to bring broadband competition to a broken duopoly market.
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Google Fiber To Cut Staff In Half After User Totals Disappoint, Says Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:23PM (#52771715)

    I'll sign up anytime, any day! Get me out of Comcast and I'll be happy!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'll sign up!

      Oh... what's that? It is not available here? Never mind then.

    • by Motard ( 1553251 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @06:07PM (#52771969)

      ...But I'm really starting to think internet-as-a-municipal-utility is the answer here.

      Well, except for the whole direct government control of my data thing.

      • by swalve ( 1980968 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @07:28PM (#52772361)
        If done right, your data would be invisible to the government. Just an encrypted stream between you and your ISP.
      • The government already has direct control of your data if they want it. You don't think Comcast bends over double to provide anything they want in the hopes of retaining their monopoly?
        • by Motard ( 1553251 )

          No, that's not direct control. They have to ask for it. That's far from it. Apple and MS have in certain cases stymied the process up a bit.

      • Not internet per say but last mile data as a utility. You get to your ISP your cable tv etc etc etc via them. It's realy not that hard all passive optics fully in the level of what the muni's are good at dealing with basic infrastructure. CWDM keeps them out of bitrates macsec keeps them from peeking at the data. Mind you I dont mind the muni offering there own internet frankly ipv6 makes it pretty easy to allow access to muni resource like police fire schools libraries and the like even other people in

      • by Enigma2175 ( 179646 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @09:43PM (#52772945) Homepage Journal

        ...But I'm really starting to think internet-as-a-municipal-utility is the answer here.

        Well, except for the whole direct government control of my data thing.

        I have been on a municipal fiber network (UTOPIA [wikipedia.org]) for the last ten years and I couldn't be happier. As far as I know, the government doesn't have anything to do with my data, they are just responsible for making sure the physical network is operational. My ISP is responsible for routing my data to the internet or other peers. I guess theoretically they could "control" my data if they really wanted to but why would my city care about my data? I'm just not seeing a motive for someone at that level of government trying to interfere with data on the network, I'm way more concerned about the feds snooping on my data and we know for that ISPs like Comcast and AT&T invite them right in. The owner of my (local) ISP has been very outspoken about free speech and net neutrality so I'm pretty sure they would resist any efforts for wholesale data harvest (although the feds can just as easily tap their upstream providers to see what's flowing off the network). And if I quit loving my current ISP, I can easily switch to a dozen others on a whim.

        At least to this point the network has been stable and blazing fast. On the few occasions there have been network problems, my ISP gives full technical details about the cause of the issue and what they are doing to fix it. It's been a lot cheaper and loads faster than my previous ISP, Comcast. With cable there was constant slowdowns and I seldom, if ever, received the advertised speed. With fiber, my symmetric connection delivers exactly the speed I bought at all times of day. Granted, it's been 10 years since I last was on cable and maybe it's improved since then but it's still light years behind judging by the posts about it on Slashdot. Plus, I don't have to deal with Comcast's "Customer Service" or "Technical Support" anymore, which is worth its weight in gold.

      • Direct government control isn't required. The good capitalist solution is not that different to the socialist solution: make homeowners own the last mile (fibre from your house to the cabinet is yours, though you may jointly own some shared trunking with your neighbours). The connections from the cabinets should be owned by public interest companies, with the shares owned by the homeowners. Providing Internet connectivity to the network would be something that you'd open to tender by any companies (for-p
      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

        Remember that not all municipal utilities are not government owned. Most rural and semirural areas get their water and power from coops (where the residents are members, and (nominally) owners of the utility). The biggest problems involved are startup costs (this is where government can play a role in the form of USF grants from fedgov or loans/bonds from states and towns) and the 800lb gorillas (AT&T, Comcast, etc) who will do everything in their power to ensure these projects fail or are outlawed.

        T

      • I believe that the internet should be a state run utility.
        I live in Quebec Canada
        About 25 years ago, the Quebec government nationalized the electricity industry. They bought out the independent electric companies and created Hydro Quebec. HQ built the James Bay project that sends water (dam generated) electricity to all of Quebec, some of Vermont, Ontario, and some of New York state. The wholesale price of electricity outside of Quebec is around 4 cents per kilowatthr (it might be 40 cents per megawatthr

    • This. I did my best to campaign for it to be brought to my town -- and we were supposedly on the shortlist -- but we got passed over.
    • by rossz ( 67331 )

      Ditto. I'm sitting here not too far from Google headquarters and I'm dying to get their service. I don't know why they've been targeted "non-technie" communities, but if they'd start rolling out their service to areas with a higher concentration of tech workers, they'd see the numbers they were hoping for.

      • I don't know why they've been targeted "non-technie" communities

        It's simple really. The more desirable places to live have a MUCH higher barrier of entry, making it a royal bitch to get into, even for Google.

    • Yep, make the service available in more places and you'll have more subscribers than you'll know what to do with Google....

    • The only people saying they would sign up are Anonymous Cowards here. I don't think that's true. I'm a happy Google Fiber subscriber, but every time I talk about how awesome it is, I get downvoted to oblivion. My theory is that most people just hate the idea of Google Fiber. Google's probably seeing the reaction from the masses too and have come to the same conclusion.

    • I'll sign up anytime, any day! Get me out of Comcast and I'll be happy!

      Not available??

      Ah gee.. That's too bad...

      https://15254b2dcaab7f5478ab-2... [rackcdn.com]

    • I'll sign up too, but of course none of the ISPs are selling what I'm buying. Or they are, but I have to move my entire life, quit my job, and completely change the way I live just to get decent Internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:25PM (#52771735)

    Maybe creating an old-school highly capital investment-intensive utility is a little harder than it appears for the new high-tech industry geniuses.

  • by BuckB ( 1340061 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:28PM (#52771743)
    That's some pretty strong fiber. So there are worse things than just getting fired.
  • "Dissapointed" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:30PM (#52771753)

    I don't know how you can be dissapointed in your subscriber numbers while simultaneously restricting your rollouts and walking back planned rollouts even in areas with high demand.

    • Re:"Dissapointed" (Score:5, Informative)

      by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:38PM (#52771807)

      Easily, they know the number of potential customers in the areas covered by their limited rollout and set their expectations based on that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, but how are they not hitting their numbers. $300 gets me 4 months of Comcast broadband, you have to be a moron not to switch to Google. Granted, we have a robust moron population, but sheesh!

      • When they rolled out in underserved markets, did anyone do the analysis of why the market was underserved? Perhaps because there was also a lack of demand?

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      Well, if you open one store and foot traffic is lower than expected, you really shouldn't open up more stores. You figure out why people aren't shopping with you.
  • Can't Subscribe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:35PM (#52771783) Homepage

    Can't subscribe if it ain't available!

    • Re:Can't Subscribe (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @05:48PM (#52771877)

      In focus groups I am sure "everyone" wants google fiber.

      In real life, it costs 2x as much as a typical cable internet connection and while it may be 50x as fast, most of the 50x is not really available. Netflix actually streams just as fast or faster on some cable companies per Nexflix's data.

      I live in an area that has it and I did not sign up because I don't need to pay ~$500 more a year for the infrequent times where I actually use more than a standard connection.

      You all can go on about how YOU use a bunch of data but most people are not you. Most people don't download multiple GB of data every day from servers that will serve content faster than 50mbps. Most people brows the web, check e-mail, watch YouTube and stream Netflix. This can all be done for half the cost with the same experience.

      • Re:Can't Subscribe (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 25, 2016 @06:14PM (#52772007)

        I signed up for fiber in my town. I had to pay $3,000 and that was a steal compared to the $17,000 my neighbour was quoted for it. The issue is licensing costs and though they had to run a really long fiber line for me all of the poles were already licensed. My neighbour on the other hand was nearer to several junction boxes, but none of the poles between him and the junction boxes were licensed. Now the actually internet speeds I can subscribe to are nowhere near what Google is advertising. At least not yet. However I do get a syncronisys connection which is one of the main benefits in my mind. It's so much better than the 10Mbps ADSL connection I used to have. Not in the download speed as this is the same as my fiber connection. It's the 10Mbps I get upload wise. I can get 100Mbps if I want to pay $200 / month. However that isn't yet justifiable to me. What is justified is the reduced latency and the fact I don't have to subscribe to shitty cable companies. I am also now living too far for ADSL to be sufficient. I would be limited to 3Mbps, or 6Mbps bonded connection. It's really cheap, but I want at least 8-10Mbps down.

      • This is what my biggest problem is. The only options $300 installation and free 5 Mbps service, or $70 a month 1 Gbps service. The first option is too slow, even if there is no monthly bill, and the second option is more than I want to spend for internet. I would love a $40 option even if it was only 50-100 Mbps. 100 Mbps would be enough to have 4 Netflix Ultra HD 4K streams going at the same time, or just have everybody on HD 1080p streams and still have plenty of bandwidth left over. Giving me 1 Gbps i

        • Yep. I really don't need tons of speed but I do want something affordable.

          Not that it matters. Google Fiber was seeming to make no effort to be where I live.

        • This is what my biggest problem is. The only options $300 installation and free 5 Mbps service, or $70 a month 1 Gbps service. The first option is too slow, even if there is no monthly bill, and the second option is more than I want to spend for internet. I would love a $40 option even if it was only 50-100 Mbps. 100 Mbps would be enough to have 4 Netflix Ultra HD 4K streams going at the same time, or just have everybody on HD 1080p streams and still have plenty of bandwidth left over. Giving me 1 Gbps internet does not give me any noticeable internet service than giving me 100 Mbps except when I see the bill at the end of the month.

          Am I missing something here? That's how much I currently pay for fiber internet here in Western New York, $72.99/mo for 25/5mb. Why the hell doesn't Google Fiber come out here, I'd love to kick Verizon FIOS to the curb for a lateral price move. I don't have any other bundled services, internet only.

      • So, why can't we get "Party Lines" where 4 adjacent houses go in together and share the cost of a Google Fiber connection? That would be both cheaper, and better, than Comcast.

        • You can. Just get a wireless router.
          • Er, or a few. 1 gbps ... it's tricky to actually get good wireless speeds that fast...

            I would probably use a wired router and setup X acess points, each with their own SSID, for each neighbor. Each neighbor would probably be limited to what, 300mbps throughput or something around there?

            I guess modern routers can try to push more using... I forget what, dual band or something where it uses both at the same time, something like that.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        I would not want it as they are already way too big and collect way too much data.

      • by jon3k ( 691256 )
        The amount of Anonymous Cowards that are astroturfing and spreading FUD for Comcast in this thread is seriously concerning.

        In what world is $70 a month "2x the cost" of cable Internet service? Your cable service is $35/mo? Including your modem rental? Because that's free with Google. And many people do download multiple gigabytes per day, they're called families. One kid watching youtube all day, parents watching netflix, add in some web browsing and video gaming (and your kids video game downloads
    • Basically this. It's more about the sluggish speed of Google's rollouts - they give competition plenty of time to cut prices and increase speeds before Google's available, and most people won't switch if they can just stick with their existing service and get, what many consider, the same thing.

      They should have been far more aggressive in getting their service in as many places as possible.

      I still believe Google will make it to my city... sometime in the year 2546, if my calculations are correct.

      • Basically this. It's more about the sluggish speed of Google's rollouts - they give competition plenty of time to cut prices and increase speeds before Google's available, and most people won't switch if they can just stick with their existing service and get, what many consider, the same thing.

        They should have been far more aggressive in getting their service in as many places as possible.

        I still believe Google will make it to my city... sometime in the year 2546, if my calculations are correct.

        In Nashvill

      • > They should have been far more aggressive in getting their service in as many places as possible.

        Maybe. Or maybe if it didn't sell well in Kansas City, and it didn't sell well in Austin, and it didn't sell well in Provo - it doesn't sell well. More cities would have been more fail.

        Kind of like politicians in places that have been 100% controlled by one party, representing one viewpoint, for decades and it hasn't worked, places like Detroit, Chicago, etc. While campaiging the same politicians stand up

      • Isn't the Google self-flying spacecraft supposed to have evacuated the planet by 2456?

  • I'm in an alleged Google Fiber City and I can't get it!

    The sign up/announcement process is also shit. My suburb originally wasn't on the list, even now it's not on the main list communities, only when a downtown address is put on the list.

    Fiber doesn't need to be cutting staff, it needs to be increasing staff to increase awareness--I don't know anybody who actually likes either Com-Crap or AT&T. But nobody knows when/if it will ever actually be available for a given address because google is keeping p

    • I'm in an alleged Google Fiber City and I can't get it!

      Lived just outside of Provo's fiber boundaries. When Google announced their acquisition of the network I was thrilled that I might finally get on it. Nope, no fiber for me, still out of range. I requested more information ever few months and was told time and again I'd be notified when it comes to my area ... up until I moved late last year.

      Moved to Austin, supposedly another Google Fiber city. The areas they've covered in the city are the most dense, and also most expensive, places. If you want to live

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @06:21PM (#52772043) Journal
    Most people are so used to Internet Service being the Monopoly of the Cable provider that they are not aware of alternaties in the few areas where Fiber is available. Not to mention that Cable actually does compete in those few areas where there is legitimate competition from Fiber
    • The miracle of advertising... does Google know anything about targeted advertising? Do you think they could reach customers in their target markets with a message or two promoting their service?

    • The problem is the quasi-monopolies (i.e. industries with very few players but very high barriers to entry)—but in the other direction.

      I'm a Google Fiber user, but in this area, the moment that Google Fiber announced, the two other providers both suddenly rolled out gigabit fiber plans at around $70/mo. after years of charging about that for 5-20 megabit plans. Their customers all switched to the new plans while waiting for Google Fiber to build out (took many months) and as a result didn't go through

  • by Anonymous Coward

    About three months ago fiber rolled out to our area and my apartment complex already paid the install fee. However I have not switched yet. Why?
    1) Already in a contract with telecom company.
    2) There is zero reason to trust an 'evil' company like Google from harvesting my data. Yes, most ISPs do it. But Google is one of the worst privacy whores on the planet.
    3) Pricing is not that competitive. 1GB service is nicely priced, but most of my devices are 100mb and I don't use that much internet. 100mb service is

  • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @06:40PM (#52772115)

    Third time this week. I'm reading through slashdot comments on my mobile and get a popup ad with a "data:text/html;base64" url. Here's a couple screen grabs:

    http://imgur.com/a/E4fuR [imgur.com]

    first photo shows the URL. second photo shows that chrome thinks the page is still on slashdot's website. The ad pops up and fills the screen on it's own, without me clicking on anything (so it's on some sort of setTimeout or something). It won't let me use the back button either. This crap is very invasive. Slashdot should not be showing these sort of ads

    • Awesome, you won a reward! What was it?

    • by cosm ( 1072588 )

      Third time this week. I'm reading through slashdot comments on my mobile and get a popup ad with a "data:text/html;base64" url. Here's a couple screen grabs:

      http://imgur.com/a/E4fuR [imgur.com]

      first photo shows the URL. second photo shows that chrome thinks the page is still on slashdot's website. The ad pops up and fills the screen on it's own, without me clicking on anything (so it's on some sort of setTimeout or something). It won't let me use the back button either. This crap is very invasive. Slashdot should not be showing these sort of ads

      Confirmed. I've seen it multiple times in the past few weeks on my Android phone's Chrome browser.

      • To confirm, you mean you've seen it while viewing slashdot, correct?

      • News for NERDS, you're supposed to be chained to a desktop PC - mobile is far too hip to be square.

        • I don't even use the mobile site on my mobile devices. Maybe that's because I recall as commonplace desktop monitor screens that had ~1/6 the pixel depth/width that my phone has.

          (Yes, size is a thing--but so is resolution.)

    • by Teckla ( 630646 )

      Third time this week. I'm reading through slashdot comments on my mobile and get a popup ad with a "data:text/html;base64" url. Here's a couple screen grabs:

      http://imgur.com/a/E4fuR [imgur.com]

      first photo shows the URL. second photo shows that chrome thinks the page is still on slashdot's website. The ad pops up and fills the screen on it's own, without me clicking on anything (so it's on some sort of setTimeout or something). It won't let me use the back button either. This crap is very invasive. Slashdot should not be showing these sort of ads

      Not only this, but fucking auto fucking refresh is still fucking annoying us, and if you click Older >> at the bottom of the page, it takes you to the older articles but very frequently puts you at the bottom of the page (wtf?), and the big ads at the top take so long to load that the comments I'm reading are often jumping around as the ad finally loads and adjusts the page height, etc. Ugh.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • Third time this week. I'm reading through slashdot comments on my mobile and get a popup ad with a "data:text/html;base64" url.

      Ignoring the pop-up, I'm not sure why you willingly subject yourself to that torture.

      Go install Avantslash [avantslash.org] on your server and read Slashdot on your phone that way.

      Not only will your eyes thank you for it - but your data cap will too.

  • Of the 23 homes on my street I'm confident I saw 12 installations since GF started hooking us up in April. I'm pretty sure it is more, probably approaching 75% if not more. And I've seen the trucks all over the subdivision in the last 4 months. I can stand on the second level of my home and easily pick up 10 GF wireless signals. So in my KC suburban subdivision the uptake seems pretty significant from what I've seen. I have TV, internet, and phone through GF. I hope they can keep it up as the service
  • by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Thursday August 25, 2016 @06:50PM (#52772177)
    Been waiting here in Overland Park, KS for over year since they announced it. Their build-out is slow.
  • Except the burden of entry appears to be too high for the largest company in the world. [dogsofthedow.com]

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      The problem is not cost, it's the duopoly that legally restricts other companies from doing business on public property. The other issue Google has is they are operating in higher cost of living markets where there is already some competition (duopolies mean at least some competition) so prices were already relatively low and speeds relatively high and all the cable companies had to do was just put in some new numbers to match Google. If they would've gone into more higher risk markets, lower income cities

  • Oh, you don't offer it in my area?
  • I'm wondering if Google ever really planned to do more than a handful of city-wide Google Fiber rollouts. I think that they were more concerned about scaring the phone and cable companies into upgrading their broadband speeds than really becoming a serious competitor as an ISP. Now that many areas in the US have faster speeds, they are more likely use bandwidth intensive Google services like YouTube, and probably download more paid content from the Play stores. Even if they decide to purchase that content elsewhere, Google is still serving those users ads!

    With the money that Google has in the bank, they could have installed broadband in 25 mid-size cities by now. At this point, they'll probably abandon their plans to expand soon be looking for a buyer for the few cities where they actually installed service.

  • I think Google finally realized (or knew all along, like many other companies have) that wireless technology is the future of consumer broadband. Supporting a wire going out to every single customer just doesn't make sense if you can do the same thing cheaper and more reliably over thin air.
    • Fiber is a hell of a lot more reliable than wireless, or even metal conductors, during an EMP event.

      • by jetkust ( 596906 )
        Right.... Until it's YOUR wire that suddenly becomes unreliable. And the numbers game says that YOU aren't very important because you are just ONE out of millions of people who they are "servicing". But of course you aren't the only one having problems. There are many. But the cost of losing ALL of you as a customer was already accounted for in their quarterly profit margin.
  • Kansas isn't really known for its high concentration of techies who would want subscribe to a service like this.

    I live in Portland, OR. Yes we have a high concentration of techies with spare cash. We even made our state change some laws to accommodate Google Fiber. That law made us lose millions in recurring tax revenue from the likes of Comcast. That was more than a year ago. We still do not have Google Fiber. And now this? You have to be freaking kidding me!

    • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

      They rolled it out in Austin, but most of the techies with lots of disposal income are living in suburbs that aren't served by Google...

      Some, however, are now served by AT&T fiber -- probably side-effect of having Google in town, so I guess something good came out of it after all.

  • Cutting staff in half just because the results are disappointing...
    Is professional misconduct punished by drawing and quartering or something?

  • MUNICIPAL FIBER!

    There's no other way. Verizon stopped rolling out fiber years ago. In fact they've sold off some of their FIOS business. Verizon is all about wireless, that's where the cash cow is. So it's no surprise that Google would follow suit. Each wants the low hanging fruit. The only way we are going to get fiber is if municipalities roll it out themselves.
  • Google Fiber is available in my metro area. The problem - roughly 80% of the population lives outside city limits. Google Fiber is only available within city limits. Google made business decisions to save their money on infrastructure to not offer it outside the city limits. There's not really anything we can do about that. I have no idea if they did their research or not, but the reason that most people live outside city limits is that property is ridiculously expensive within the city limits and most

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