Google explores wireless alternatives to fibre

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Google Fiber has put the brakes on its rollout in California, telling Palo Alto and Mountain View it is exploring cheaper options, according to Mercury News.

The news comes only weeks’ after the business unit received praise during the company’s quarterly earnings call, as despite costing Google money, should wireless broadband be a feasible alternative it would reduce the outlay.

“Fiber is one of the businesses that is in Other Bets. And like all of our access efforts, we’re really focused,” said CFO Ruth Porat, during the company’s earning call. “And our vision here is to create abundant and ubiquitous networks. We think there’s a lot of opportunity to improve the experience that users have, and that’s where the Fiber team is focused.”

One area which could have caused a bit of a stir within the business would be the acquisition of Webpass. Google entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Webpass during June, a move which built on an area of innovation the internet giant was already investigating. Webpass has paired its fiber network with wireless technology, which ties more into the wireless broadband idea which Google has been driving towards.

Google was given approval to test its 3.5 GHz wireless broadband capabilities using antennas on light poles and various other structures, in and around the Kansas City area. The FCC also seem keen on the idea. Should the wireless broadband concept be a feasible idea this would provide a more cost effective means for Google to enhance its broadband ambitions. It could also provide a viable reason for the delay. Google Fiber is already up and running in several cities throughout North America, though Mercury News has reported all future plans are now on hold.

Although the news may have come as a shock for city officials, for others in the industry it would appear as less of a surprise.

“Fibre can be problematic to deploy in built-up urban and suburban areas, causing serious disruption and requiring considerable feats of engineering to install,” said Jaime Fink, CPO at Mimosa. “It is not only logistics but also cost that acts as a barrier; fibre is approximately three times more expensive than its copper counterpart. It simply doesn’t offer the return on investment that service providers need to roll it out ubiquitously.

“A new method for the cost effective expansion of high-speed broadband is required to bridge the gap between expensive fibre and low-performance copper. This has opened up a market opportunity for service providers and vendors to take advantage of fixed wireless technology. It offers inroads for non-traditional service providers to muscle in on the incumbents, competing directly on the speed and price of their wireless services.

“Wireless technology offers high performance, gigabit internet speeds, rivalling the best fibre connections. The technology also mitigates the cost and disruption of digging trenches for fibre, which has traditionally been one of the main barriers to deployment.”

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