Google Fiber is slashing employees, preparing to deploy wireless access points instead of fiber optics

A Simple Click Really Helps

Over the past year, it’s become increasingly clear that Alphabet, Google’s new parent company that runs the Access division responsible for deploying Google Fiber, hasn’t been thrilled with that segment’s performance or cost structure. Now, word is that Access employees are being reassigned or terminated, while plans to expand Google Fiber beyond its current markets are being substantially overhauled. Going forward, Google wants to offer wireless service, not fiber-to-the-home.

Access is already experimenting with rolling out new wireless devices that would occupy the 3.5GHz spectrum, according to Wired. This band of spectrum is generally underused — it’s reserved for certain military applications, but this mostly applies to naval stations and satellite ground facilities. Outside of these areas, 3.5GHz isn’t utilized. The FCC has drawn up a proposal that would allow for a three-tiered sharing system between various classes of users to allow for priority access for the military when required, with other users splitting network spectrum when military use isn’t required.

8222108167_42fbe16123

Google Fiber has already begun experimenting with this system in Kansas City, to see how effectively it can deliver high performance broadband without a fiber pull. The problem with fiber pulls is simple: It’s extremely expensive to bring fiber-to-the-home, and the costs have been compounded by incumbent telcos who have sued Google Fiber in various states to avoid being forced to share utility poles or route access. Running a cable through yards and under sidewalks and driveways isn’t exactly cheap when you have to tear the landscape apart, then put it all back together.

Google Fiber has already said it does not intend to leave any of its existing markets, and it will continue to sign up new customers for wireline access in cities like Louisville, Nashville, and San Antonio. Alphabet has petitioned for access to extremely high-frequency bands like 70GHz and 80GHz as well, and purchased the firm Webpass, which is developing these technologies, to further its own research.

Millimeter-wave absorption frequencies. 60Hz neatly intersects O2.

It’s not clear how ready these technologies are for prime time or if they’ll ever be widely deployed. One of the known, clear drawbacks to millimeter wave networks is the fact that these frequencies are substantially attenuated by humidity and rain. In the desert, that’s not much of an issue. Anywhere else, it absolutely can be. 70-80GHz may be better, since 60GHz has an unfortunate peak absorbtion intersection with atmospheric O2, which makes it ill-suited for our atmosphere.

On the other hand, it’s also not clear consumers want to pay Google Fiber prices for wireless service and the attendant problems that come with it. Modern Wi-Fi and LTE networks are vastly more robust and easier to configure now than they were when the first consumer products hit store shelves almost 20 years ago. But nothing beats the speed, reliability, and simplicity of a wired connection. The 3.5GHz band may have more traction here, since it’s closer to the popular 2.4GHz band and should suffer less signal loss over distance than 5GHz or millimeter wave wireless systems.

If Alphabet kills Google Fiber’s actual fiber deployments, we’ll be sorry to see it go. Google’s entry into new local markets has often precipitated price cuts on services from incumbent ISPs, and consumers have generally benefited from higher speeds and lower prices. Wireless access is not a substitute for fiber optic cable. I don’t see the company having much luck convincing people to sign up for an uncertain service, especially when it’s based on less-capable wireless standards where performance could depend on ambient weather conditions and tree leaf density between access points.



Source link

SHARE

Have your say

Loading Facebook Comments ...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here