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Google Fiber will lay off employees as it shifts to wireless

Google Fiber will lay off employees as it shifts to wireless


Its future is a combination of fiber and wireless

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Access, the Alphabet internet division containing Google Fiber, will lay off employees and replace its CEO as it looks for cheaper ways to deliver internet service to new cities.

Current Access CEO Craig Barratt made the announcement in a blog post this evening, saying that he would be staying on only in an advisory role. He didn't state how many employees were being laid off, but ArsTechnica reports that it's around 9 percent of the company.

"We’re going to pause our operations and offices while we refine our approaches."

Those employees, the blog post indicates, will come from local offices in cities where Access was hoping to set up Fiber internet service. Barratt says that Access is "going to pause" operations in all of those cities "while we refine our approaches."

Most of the cities Access had hoped to bring fiber internet to are unlikely to receive it. Access is "pausing" nine cities in total: Los Angeles, Dallas, Tampa, Jacksonville, Portland, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose, and Oklahoma City. Access says it may return to these cities in the future, once it's figured out a better way of deploying internet access.

Several other cities — Chicago, San Francisco, Irvine, San Antonio, Huntsville, and potentially Louisville — will still see some fiber deployment.

Access has been working to build out its fiber network for six years, but has so far only managed to launch in eight locations. Word has been coming out over the past few months indicating that Alphabet was placing greater pressure on Access to speed up deployment and find a way around fiber's costly rollout.

The future of Access, to a large extent, seems to lie in wireless. Access purchased the internet provider Webpass in June, giving it the technology to begin deploying over-the-air gigabit internet to homes. In theory, it provides the same service that fiber would, but without as many deployment hurdles.

Barratt didn't say if a decision had been made on who would replace him as CEO.

Correction October 25th, 8:25PM ET: Chicago will still see some fiber deployment. This article has also been updated to clarify that Google Fiber exists inside of Access, rather than having been superseded by Access.