Why Google Might Sell Its Fiber Business

Google’s Access unit, home to Google Fiber, hit major turbulence this year, laying off staff, cutting back on the scope of the project and parting ways with its CEO. That paves the way for Alphabet next year to sell or spin. Potential acquirers could include another fiber internet provider like CenturyLink, said one telecommunications executive.

A sale or spinoff would end what began six years ago as an experiment in one market but became something much bigger. When Google first announced plans for the fiber-based broadband and TV service, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hoped to show what types of apps fast internet access could make possible, like telemedicine and online learning. But after an enthusiastic initial reception to the service, Google got more ambitious. Fiber expanded to eight markets, including Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas.

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Google achieved some of its goals with Fiber. Rival internet providers have stepped up investments and brought faster and less expensive service to market. But if, as I predict, Alphabet sheds Google Fiber next year, history will remember one of its most ambitious projects as only a partial success.

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Philip I. Thomas, Fazal Majid and 1 other commented on this article.
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If Alphabet was serious about Google Fiber, it would have had former CEO Craig Barratt’s replacement lined up on day one.