Skip to main content

Google Fiber is leaving Louisville in humiliating setback

Google Fiber is leaving Louisville in humiliating setback


The gigabit internet service will shut down in Louisville on April 15th

Share this story

Image: Google Fiber

Google Fiber’s attempt to roll out its gigabit internet across the city of Louisville, Kentucky has apparently failed so spectacularly that the company has decided to completely shut down the service and leave town altogether. CNET has a report on the news, which Alphabet’s Access division confirmed in a blog post on Thursday. “We’ll work with our customers and partners to minimize disruption, and we’re committed to doing right by the community, which welcomed us as we tested methods of delivering high-speed internet in new and different ways,” the Fiber team said. Google Fiber signups in Louisville began in October 2017.

It is yet another severe blow to Alphabet’s fiber-based residential and business broadband service, which once drew a lot of buzz before Alphabet severely curtailed investment and paused expansion. About a year ago, The Verge reported that Google Fiber would shut down its Webpass gigabit internet service in Boston. Alphabet later brought on a former Time Warner Cable executive to lead the Access unit that’s in charge of Fiber.

In Louisville, Google Fiber installation crews had been using a process called “shallow trenching” that involved laying fiber cable two inches beneath the sides of roads in the city and covering them up with sealant. The company seemed optimistic about this plan until some of the cable started becoming exposed over time, requiring a second cover-up with hot asphalt. It seems Access realized it had to go a bit deeper with the cabling; in San Antonio, a similar method is used — but the fiber is laid at least six inches deep into the ground. Google Fiber has at times faced legal challenges from rivals (like AT&T) that don’t want to share utility poles, so shallow trenching is also a way around that hurdle.

“We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Google Fiber cities”

Unfortunately, things have somehow gone so awry in Louisville that Google Fiber claims it would need to rebuild the entire network to get everything to a satisfactory point, and it seems Alphabet just isn’t interested in blowing the cash that would be necessary to do that. So instead, Google Fiber will today alert Lousville customers that their service will end on April 15th.

The company will not charge those customers for their final two months of service, no doubt an attempt to soften the blow of Fiber’s pending exit. Other ISPs including AT&T offer fiber service in the city — AT&T has outpaced Google Fiber at connecting homes to fiber internet — and haven’t encountered the same trenching troubles, CNET says. But AT&T’s service is more expensive and Spectrum’s gigabit-tier internet doesn’t match Fiber’s upload speeds, according to the report. So consumers are definitely on the losing end.

The blog post says: “the lessons we’ve learned in Louisville have already made us better in our other Google Fiber cities. We’ve refined our micro-trenching methods and are seeing good outcomes elsewhere.” So Louisville allowed Google Fiber into its city and taught Alphabet some hard lessons, but now the company is pulling out and putting those learnings to use elsewhere. Ouch. And that’s after Louisville put in a lot of work on its end to make things easier for Alphabet, as local reporter Chris Otts mentions here:

At least for now, Louisville officials aren’t yet publicly voicing much anger or frustration towards Alphabet over this decision. Jean Porter, director of communications for Mayor Greg Fischer, provided The Verge with the following statement:

“From the time Louisville Metro began working with Google Fiber, we’ve believed that adding this service as a choice for residents would lead other providers to offer better services, faster speeds and lower costs. Competition is good for a market. AT&T, Spectrum, and others have stepped up and increased investment in Louisville. We look forward to working with them and others to provide residents with choices for low-cost, gigabit-speed internet access. We are also excited by our expansion of internet network capacity through the LFIT middle mile fiber initiative and 5G wireless coverage.”

Building out fiber broadband infrastructure has proven to be an incredibly expensive and challenging effort for Alphabet; the “shallow trenching” and “nanotrenching” were seen as ways of saving on costs and keeping Fiber’s expansion alive.

Currently, Google Fiber remains in these cities:

  • Huntsville, AL
  • Oakland, CA* (Webpass)
  • Orange County, CA
  • San Diego, CA* (Webpass)
  • San Francisco, CA* (Webpass)
  • Denver, CO* (Webpass)
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chicago, IL* (Webpass)
  • Kansas City, MO / KS
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Raleigh-Durham, NC
  • Nashville, TN
  • Austin, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Salt Lake City / Provo, UT
  • Seattle, WA* (Webpass)

If you’re looking for some good news in all of this, Google Fiber says that it will continue to add new customers and expand service to additional neighborhoods in those existing service regions.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

Emma RothTwo hours ago
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.

External Link
Russell BrandomTwo hours ago
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?

Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.

External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.

External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.

James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.

Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.

External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.

The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.

The Verge
Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.

David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”